- May 2017
The Dempster Highway begins in the Yukon and ends in Inuvik, Northwest Territories (Government of Northwest Territories). It is the only Canadian highway that crosses the Arctic Circle (Northwest Territories Parks). The Dempster Highway was named for a Northwest Mounted Police officer Sgt. W.J.D. Dempster who traveled down this road in the winter of 1910 in search of a “Lost Patrol”. The Lost Patrol was a group of mounted police who lost their way on the way back to Fort McPherson and all members died (Yukon). The highway is entirely gravel except for the last 10 kilometers in Inuvik (Government of Northwest Territories). The Dempster Highway was started in 1959, but was not completed until 1979 (Yukon). The Dempster highway is known for its ecology, including caribou, sheep, eagles, falcons, butterflies, bears, coyotes, foxes, and others. The highway passes through Angelcomb Peak, or sheep mountain, which is the breeding ground for the Dall’s sheep. The highway passes a region of “drunken” boreal forest, which got its name because it is located on an area of shifting permafrost that continuously thaws and freezes. The Dempster Highway crosses 217 of Canada’s ecoregions. After 405.5 kilometers on the highway, travelers will reach the Arctic Circle. After 465 kilometers, the highway enters the Northwest Territories. The highway ends after 272 kilometers in the Northwest Territories in Inuvik. A full map of the Dempster Highway can be found below.
References: "Dempster Highway Travelogue." Yukon. Accessed May 05, 2017.
"Highway 8." Transportation-Government of Northwest Territories. Accessed May 05, 2017. http://www.dot.gov.nt.ca/Highways/Highway_System/NWTHwy8.
"Dempster Highway." Dempster Highway | Northwest Territories Parks. Accessed May 05, 2017. https://nwtparks.ca/explore/dempster-highway.
- 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/.