Herd Update: March 2011

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       Fall Movements and Composition Count
       Winter Satellite Collar Locations
       Late Winter Telemetry Relocations

       March Captures

       Dempster Snow Stations

**Information for this update provided by Eric Wald (US Fish and Wildlife Service) and Jason Caikoski (Alaska Department of Fish and Game)**

Download the March 2011 report as a printer friendly Acrobat pdf file (498 kb)

Fall Movements and Composition Count

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Movements of Satellite collared cow caribou during late summer and fall, 2010.

Late in the summer of 2010 the Porcupine Caribou Herd was spread out over their summer range. Caribou were available to hunters near the Yukon / NWT border along the Dempster Highway and extended across the northern Yukon and Alaska, mostly north of the Old Crow Flats as far west as Arctic Village. By late September the majority of the caribou that were in the Yukon had moved west into Alaska. Telemetry flights in early October indicated that as many as 85 % of the herd was in Alaska. One satellite and 3 caribou collared with radio's remained north of Old Crow in the Flats. Another radio collar was located in the Richardson Mountains north of the Dempster Highway.

In the middle October, the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, the Department of Environment, Government of Yukon, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge conducted a composition survey of the Porcupine Caribou Herd (PCH) during the rut (16 - 18 October, 2010). A total of 11,207 caribou were classified of which 9,221 were adults. The estimated bull:cow ratio was 57 bulls per 100 cows and the estimated calf:cow ratio was 34 calves per 100 cows.

Download the memorandum by Jason Caikoski of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game
to read the entire 2010 PCH Fall Composition Count report as a printer friendly Acrobat pdf file (401 kb)

Winter Satellite Collar Locations

Movements of Satellite collared cow caribou during winter months, December 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011
Throughout the late fall and early winter, Porcupine Caribou remained in the area around Arctic Village overlapped with caribou from the Central Arctic Herd. In the Yukon there were some caribou that wintered near the Dempster Highway between the Arctic Circle and the NWT border. The lone satellite collared caribou in the Yukon wintered in the Fishing Branch area. In late January caribou in Alaska began moving east from Arctic Village ending up close to the Canada / US border in the upper reaches of the Kongakut, Coleen and Firth Rivers.

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Late Winter Telemetry Relocations

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Locations of radio and satellite collared Porcupine February and March, 2011

Telemetry flights to locate radio collared Porcupine Caribou were conducted on February 23, 28 and March 1 to 4, 2011 by Alaskan biologists flying in US Fish and Wildlife Service aircraft. The search list had 118 collared caribou to relocate.

A total of 88 radio collars were found. Of the radios heard, 4 were new mortality signals and 3 were old confirmed moralities. Of the collared caribou that were found alive, 78 (96 %) were located in Alaska, while only 3 (4 %) were located in the Yukon.

Caribou were spread out in most directions from Arctic Village with several radios scattered northeasterly along and in the mountains to the headwaters of the Kongakut River. Many radios were located in several large groups near the upper Kongakut, Firth and Coleen Rivers. Central Arctic Herd caribou were mixed with the Porcupine herd around Arctic Village where 4 CAH collars were heard.

The 3 collars in the Yukon were widespread. One was along the Firth River east of the Alaskan concentrations, one was in the Fishing Branch, and the third was considerably further south between the headwaters of the Tatonduk and Miner Rivers.

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March Captures

The goal this March was to recapture a number of cow caribou that had originally been collared with VHF transmitters as 9 month old calves (also called "Short-yearlings" as they are just short of being one year old). We also had 2 satellite collars that were approaching the end of their lifespan and needed to be replaced. In addition, we wanted to capture a number of current year short-yearling cows to increase our sample of known aged collared caribou.

Radio collars were provided by the Yukon Government and the Government of the Northwest Territories. Satellite collars were provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Telemetry to relocate caribou for recaptures was conducted by USF&WS staff and Papa Zulu Aviation from Tok, Alaska. Captures were conducted by Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Jason Caikoski using an R-44 helicopter (Chena River Aviation, piloted by Troy Cambier). All captures were conducted in Alaska. Weather was clear, sunny, and relatively calm with temperatures ranging from -25 F to 15 F depending on time of day and geographic location.

A total of 17 caribou were net gunned for recollaring or deploying new collars. This included 9 adult female recaptures, and 8 new random female short-yearlings. Of the 9 recaptures 2 were to replace satellite collars. The other 7 caribou had initially been collared with radio transmitters. 1 of these was recollared with a new satellite transmitter while the others were refitted with new radios. All short-yearlings received radio transmitters.

Following the capture events in March, we now have a total of 14 satellite and 102 VHF radio transmitters on Porcupine Caribou. All satellite transmitters are on cow caribou. Of the VHF transmitters 87 are on cows and 15 on bulls.

Dempster Snow Stations

Snow Survey data was not available at the time of this update. It will be added to this site when it becomes available.

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If you have any questions, please contact:
Dorothy Cooley or Martin Kienzler
Regional Management
Box 600
Dawson City, YT
Y0B 1G0
Phone (867) 993 ­ 6461
Fax (867) 993 ­ 6548
Email dorothy.cooley@gov.yk.ca or martin.kienzler@gov.yk.ca

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