Friday, October 4, 2013

Historic Caribou Crossing

The Fortymile Caribou herd is crossing the Yukon River:

Photo by Scott Johnson

Hunting this herd is controlled and contested. Because their traditional migratory grounds are so easily accessible by highway, the Department of Fish and Game has had to micromanage the hunting season to make sure that this herd is not over-harvested. Often the hunt will only be open for a day or so. However, since the herd crossed the Yukon into a different game management unit, some hunters got excited and began hunting them, since hunting rules North of the Yukon are less stringent, having developed with the more robust Porcupine herd in mind rather than the Fortymile. As soon as Fish and Game got wind of this, they shut down hunting the Fortymile herd.

Caribou migration patterns change from time to time, and no one really knows why. Herd sizes also fluctuate by huge numbers. Inupiaq stories tell of times of starvation and deprivation from brutal winters when the caribou just did not show up. In those days, caribou migration patterns were as mysterious and unpredictable as they are today. And the people depended so much on the caribou for food, clothing, and shelter in such an unforgiving environment, it's no wonder they had so many superstitions and extremely specific rituals.

Anyway, happy Feast Day of St. Francis, everyone! I generally try to be vegetarian on these days in his honor, but my neighbor gave me some leftover homemade pizza with moose on it this morning, and I could not say no. Autumn and Linden are going to St. Matthews with me this Sunday to be blessed. :)


soaringfish said...

Had an Alaskan moment... Gasp: the 40mile herd is going to get all shot up. Ahhh, thank you ADF&G for shutting down that hunt.

I love Alaska with all her faults.

mdr said...

Have a good time at the church gathering.. lots of food?!