Alaska to consider hunt on Chisana caribou

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The Chisana caribou herd has grown to more than 700 animals following an international recovery project, up from less than 300 in 2003. Photo Rick Bowmer, Associated Press.Wildlife officials in Alaska are considering proposals to open a limited hunt on the Chisana caribou. The cross-border herd  has rebounded to stable levels following an international recovery project based in Beaver Creek, a community of around 100 people, in Canada’s Yukon territory.

Pregnant female caribou, known as cows, were held in rearing pens near the small community located on the Alaskan border to protect calves until they were old enough to outrun predators.

The innovative program has seen the herd grow to more than 700 animals. According to World Wildlife Fund Canada, that is up from fewer than 300 in 2003.

Polly Wheeler, from the Office of Subsistence Management in Alaska, said local hunters want to open up a hunt on male caribou, known as bulls.

“Obviously if the herd isn’t healthy, or can’t sustain a harvest, then the board wouldn’t recommend that a hunt be established,” she told CBC News.

Wheeler said Yukoners are encouraged to give their input through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

“I think it would be awesome to get comments from the Canadian side of things,” she said.

A decision is not expected until January 2012.

Article last updated September 6, 2011

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