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KODIAK: Reindeer Surveyed Just in Time for the Holidays
Alaska Region, October 27, 2010
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Feral reindeer, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Kodiak, Alaska.  G. Atwell/USFWS
Feral reindeer, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Kodiak, Alaska. G. Atwell/USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Feral reindeer range in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Kodiak, Alaska.
Feral reindeer range in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Kodiak, Alaska. - Photo Credit: n/a

The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge staff conducted an aerial survey for feral reindeer on Kodiak Island this past October.  Although reindeer have been informally counted during Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) law enforcement flights, the Refuge’s effort is one of the first dedicated surveys for reindeer on Kodiak Island.  Sixty-four reindeer were spotted by McCrea Cobb and pilot Isaac Bedingfield on the one-day aerial survey of refuge lands.  Weather was an issue on the survey as winds did not allow the plane to cover the side canyons of the major valleys and patchy snow made it more difficult to see reindeer.  An estimated 300 reindeer currently inhabit the southwestern region of Kodiak Island, Alaska.  The population size has been stable in recent years.

 

Reindeer are not native to the Kodiak archipelago.  Thirty-two reindeer were introduced to the island in 1921 to provide economic and subsistence opportunities to residents of Akhiok.  In response to a lack of active husbandry, the reindeer population was declared feral and a no-limit open season was established by ADF&G in 1962.  Same-day airborne hunting was authorized in 2002.   In 2010, the Alaska Board of Game banned same-day airborne hunting, created a hunting season, and limited take to one reindeer per hunter.

 

The goal of Kodiak Refuge’s new study is to quantify annual reindeer population sizes to determine the influence of new hunting regulations on the reindeer population.  Refuge biologists plan to resurvey for reindeer after the calving season in June 2011, and then surveys will be repeated annually to assess trends in population and response to harvest management.  For more information on this project and other ungulate research being conducted at the Kodiak Refuge, contact McCrea Cobb, Wildlife Biologist (mccrea_cobb@fws.gov). 


Contact Info: McCrea Cobb, 907-487-0246, mccrea_cobb@fws.gov



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