Nelchina Caribou Herd Needs To Play Catchup Through Snow For Calving

Interesting piece in the Anchorage Daily News regarding the herd’s march through heavy snow to reach traditional calving grounds. Here’s ADN’s John Schandelmeier with more:

The spring migration is different. There is an urgency in the herd to reach the calving grounds. The loosely grouped individual herds are invariably led by an older pregnant cow who has traveled the route many times previously.

The late start means the caribou have to hurry. The route they take may be as unfamiliar as it is difficult.

On the first of May, two groups of cows crossed the Richardson Highway in front of me, midway between the village of Gulkana and the Hub. The second group of about 30 cows crossed the highway south of the Gulkana airport.

The cows are pregnant, and calving won’t wait for the snow to melt. Calves are born from mid-May to early June. The calving grounds habitually used are located above timberline. These areas are generally windblown and have good access to food sources.