- Mar 2017
Porcupine caribou herd
The Porcupine caribou herd is one of the largest migratory barren-ground caribou herds found in North America. The range of the herd spans over 250,000 square kilometers in the northern tundra. In the spring, the herd migrates between Alaska and Yukon’s arctic coast. In the winter, the herd ventures into Yukon’s Ogilvie Mountains. Although the majority of the land in the range of the herd is undeveloped, there are certain key areas which have been industrialized. Oil and gas exploration in the Eagle Plains basin interrupts the winter range of the Porcupine caribou herd. Also affecting the herd’s winter range are the Dempster Highway and mineral exploration in the Peel River watershed. The Dempster Highway connects Inuvik to Dawson City (Porcupine Caribou Management Board).
Regarding population size of the Porcupine caribou herd, according to the Arctic journal, “migratory wild reindeer and caribou numbers have dropped by about one-third since populations peaked in the 1990s and early 2000s”. There are natural periods of abundance and scarcity among migratory tundra caribou herds. These increases and decreases in population size are likely results of “continental climate switches” (Gunn et al. 2009, iii). Since the first population survey in the early 1970s, the Porcupine Caribou Management Board has conducted a survey every two years and reports that the population size has fluctuated between 100,000 and 200,000 animals (Porcupine Caribou Management Board). A detailed graph estimating the size of the population of the Porcupine caribou herd is shown below.
For further information, please consider the following link to The Porcupine Caribou Management Board (PCMB) webpage: http://www.pcmb.ca/.
Gunn, Anne, Don Russell, Robert G. White, and Gary Kofinas. "Facing a Future of Change: Wild Migratory Caribou and Reindeer." Arctic 62, no. 3 (2009): Iii-Vi. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40513303.
Porcupine Caribou Management Board. "The Porcupine Caribou Management Board (PCMB)." Porcupine Caribou Management Board. Accessed March 08, 2017. http://www.pcmb.ca/.