Saturday, January 22, 2011

Porcupine Caribou Herd Numbers Higher than Last Census


(Juneau) –Counts have not been completed, but Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologists say that the Porcupine Caribou herd numbers are significantly greater than 123,000 animals, the number estimated in 2001.
The herd ranges in the northeastern part of Alaska and into Yukon, Canada, and is an important resource for residents of both areas. Alaska and Canada cooperatively manage the herd.
An ADF&G photocensus of the Porcupine Caribou herd was conducted in July 2010, and the photographed caribou are now being counted. “We’ve counted more than 123,000 caribou so far, and we haven’t finished,” said Beth Lenart, ADF&G Area Biologist. “This is good news for people who value this herd.”
Five photocensuses that occurred from 1989 to 2001 indicated a decline in the herd from 178,000 to 123,000 animals. Alaskan and Canadian biologists thought it was possible that the herd may have continued to decline since 2001. However, concerns of a declining herd have faded as counting of the 2010 photos progressed.
Alaskan biologists do not expect to finalize the herd estimate until early March. Canadian managers will be meeting in early February to establish hunting regulations in Yukon. ADF&G biologists will decide whether to recommend changes to Alaska’s hunting regulations before the next meeting of the Board of Game that will consider Porcupine Caribou in March, 2012.
Lenart said the quality of the photocensus is very good. “The photos are of high quality, caribou were well aggregated, and we located all of the radio collars,” said Lenart. “Conditions were excellent for a photocensus. Numbers are higher than we expected to find, and we’re confident the herd has grown since 2001.”
Official estimates of Porcupine Herd size will be released after counting and verification are completed.

Source: ADFG

Wolf Taken on Military Land Due to Public Safety Concerns


(Juneau) – Department of Fish and Game (ADF&FG) staff killed a wolf in the area of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) near Eagle River and Chugiak on Wednesday afternoon.
ADF&G and Military officials have been working cooperating to reduce the number of wolves on the base after reports of wolves approaching and threatening people. ADF&G and JBER biologists are using progressively more intense methods beginning with opportunistic shooting and then trapping. Officials will reevaluate the approach at the end of January.
Wolves in the area have displayed increasingly habituated and aggressive behavior towards humans and have killed or injured dogs and other livestock.
“It’s not common for wolves to become aggressive toward people, but when they do, it’s a public safety issue,” said Regional Supervisor, Mark Burch. “While wolf attacks on humans are rare, this lack of fear and aggression is the kind of behavior seen by wolves that have attacked people in the past so we are doing what we can to minimize the risks.”
People on the military base can minimize their risk of a wolf encounter by walking dogs in the populated areas. People should travel in groups, stay on well-used roads and always keep dogs on a leash. If approached by a wolf or wolves, stay calm, and don’t run, but do act aggressively toward the wolf. Air horns or bear spray can help deter advancing wolves. Always be alert when traveling in wolf habitat; do not wear ear plugs or head phones. Children should always be accompanied by an adult when walking in areas where wolves are known to roam.
Officials would like people to report wolf sightings on base or near homes or in neighborhoods or wolf encounters. Contact a base dispatcher immediately, 522-3421, or call the Division of Wildlife Conservation Information Center, 267-2257 Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. For information on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson contact 907-552-8143.
For detailed information about coexisting with wolves, preventing habituation, and staying safe in wolf country, visitswww.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/management/wolves/living_in_wolf_country.pdf .

Source: ADFG