2002 Central Arctic Herd Caribou Photocensus Summary

December 16, 2002

Biologist:  Beth Lenart

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Division of Wildlife Conservation

1300 College Rd

Fairbanks, Alaska 99701




ADF&G staff counted 31,857 caribou from photographs of the Central Arctic Caribou Herd (CAH) taken in July 2002.  Groups and number of caribou were in the following locations: Katakturuk Point (115), Katakturuk Point (4,526), Canning River mouth (567), Shaviovik Delta (13, 461), East channel Sagavanirktok River (1,962), Putuligayuk River (1,437), Sakonowyak River (3,299), Beechy Point (3,499), and Kaverarak Point (2,991).


The photocensus was conducted on July 16, 2002.  We located groups by radio-tracking collared caribou from a supercub and took photos of the groups using a camera mounted in the belly of a Dehavilland Beaver aircraft.  Temperature was initially 60 degrees Fahrenheit with little or no wind (excellent conditions for a photocensus).  The beaver arrived on the coast at approximately 10:00 a.m. and we began photographing immediately.  We located/heard 75 active collars out of a possible 85 collars.  We located 5 groups east of Prudhoe Bay (53 collars) and 4 groups west of Prudhoe Bay (53 collars) and 4 groups west of Prudhoe Bay (22 collars).  All groups were directly on the coast.  Approximately 3% of the herd is collared; thus we feel that we located either all or almost all of the big groups. 


The CAH increased from 26,128 caribou in 2000 to 31, 857 caribou in 2002 (minimum count estimates).  This is an annual growth rate of approximately 8.5%. Parturition rates, late June calf:cow ratios, and fall calf:cow ratios were good in 2000 and 2001 and mortality rates also were low.  Thus, it was not surprising that the CAH increased.