Alaska caribou decrease has officials searching for answers


BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Southwest Alaska’s Mulchatna Caribou herd has decreased to less than half its numbers, leaving wildlife officials with suspicions but no clear answers.

KYUK-AM reported there were more than 27,000 Mulchatna Caribou three years ago and the figure is now only 13,500.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says causes could include the animals trampling their food, heavy predation from wolves and over-hunting by humans.

Officials say the caribou are roaming more in their western range near the Kuskokwim River and Bristol Bay region, an area with more communities than in the eastern range.

Fish and game officials say surveys indicate more people are hunting caribou than suggested by the 238 animals listed in 2018 harvest reports.

State and federal managers plan to respond with restrictions to conserve the population.