The Alaska Department of Fish and Game recently shared the results from this summer’s photo census of the herd, which is estimated at 152,000 animals. That indicates a 7% decline from the previous year.
“It just represents a continued decline for the last 20 years since 2003,” said Alex Hansen, wildlife biologist with Fish and Game. “That’s a concern.”
From 2021 to 2022, the herd lost 24,000 caribou, dropping to a population of 164,000 animals — the lowest count since the early 1980s. From 2022 to 2023, the loss was 12,000 animals.
“The slower rate of decline is one bit of hopeful news for this herd,” said Brittany Sweeney, outreach specialist at Selawik National Wildlife Refuge.