CARIBOU – Hunting

This month in Alaska, caribou are finishing their migrations to their winter ranges. It’s the time when they come into closest contact with the people who depend upon them for food. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. We’re listening to the sounds used by female caribou to communicate with their young.

“The people throughout the North have traditionally depended on caribou as one of their primary sources of red meat, and that’s certainly true even to this day in Alaska. Many villages are located along traditional caribou migration routes — people still hunt caribou for food; people still make some articles of clothing out of caribou. And caribou are an integral part of the traditional culture of many of our native peoples.”

Ken Whitten is a Research Coordinator at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He tells us that the number of caribou in Alaska’s 35 or so herds is up to around the one million mark. And that makes them a prime candidate for game to both subsistence and sport hunters.

“With our abundant caribou populations, we can easily support the current levels of harvest. Caribou are highly sought after by urban recreational and sport hunters. Even people in some of our larger cities in Alaska depend fairly heavily and certainly as a preference on game meat for food. So we also have a fair amount of hunting by our urban people here in Alaska.”

This amount of hunting requires some serious management on the part of the Fish and Game Department.

“In the smaller herds, we need to regulate hunting very closely to ensure that we don’t over-harvest these populations. And when we approach our desired harvest goal, we can stop the hunt very quickly.”

Additional funding for this series is provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

CARIBOU - Hunting

In Alaska, maintaining wild caribou populations means placing restrictions on one of the state’s most traditional sports.
Air Date:10/23/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

This month in Alaska, caribou are finishing their migrations to their winter ranges. It's the time when they come into closest contact with the people who depend upon them for food. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. We're listening to the sounds used by female caribou to communicate with their young.

"The people throughout the North have traditionally depended on caribou as one of their primary sources of red meat, and that's certainly true even to this day in Alaska. Many villages are located along traditional caribou migration routes -- people still hunt caribou for food; people still make some articles of clothing out of caribou. And caribou are an integral part of the traditional culture of many of our native peoples."

Ken Whitten is a Research Coordinator at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He tells us that the number of caribou in Alaska's 35 or so herds is up to around the one million mark. And that makes them a prime candidate for game to both subsistence and sport hunters.

"With our abundant caribou populations, we can easily support the current levels of harvest. Caribou are highly sought after by urban recreational and sport hunters. Even people in some of our larger cities in Alaska depend fairly heavily and certainly as a preference on game meat for food. So we also have a fair amount of hunting by our urban people here in Alaska."

This amount of hunting requires some serious management on the part of the Fish and Game Department.

"In the smaller herds, we need to regulate hunting very closely to ensure that we don't over-harvest these populations. And when we approach our desired harvest goal, we can stop the hunt very quickly."

Additional funding for this series is provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.