There will be no permits offered this year to hunt Multchatna Caribou. After years of decline, state and federal managers are not opening a hunt this upcoming season in hopes of conserving the waning herd.
Earlier this month, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists surveyed the Mulchatna herd and estimated that 12,850 caribou remain. That number is half of what the population was five years ago, and far below where managers want the herd to be. They would like it to be up to six times its current size, between 30,000 to 80,000 caribou.
A pathogen may make it more difficult for the herd to recover. Last year, state biologists detected evidence of an outbreak of a highly contagious bacteria, called brucellosis, in the herd, which can cause lameness and miscarriages. Biologists are conducting research to determine other factors that could be contributing to the herd’s decline.
Managers have tried to boost Muchatna Caribou numbers over the past decade. Since 2011, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has approved wolf removal from the herd’s calving grounds to limit predation in the hopes of boosting the caribou’s population. Since 2019, managers have limited hunting opportunities by reducing bag limits, shortening seasons, and closing seasons early.