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Front Page News

April 29, 2015


Saving The Fortymile Caribou Herd At Gilmanton Year Round Library May 12

Gilmanton Caribouherd.jpg

Saving Alaska’s Fortymile Caribou Herd is the subject of Craig Gardner’s program at the Gilmanton Year-Round Library on Tuesday, May 12, 6 pm.


Craig Gardner will present a program describing the effort to preserve Alaska’s Fortymile Caribou herd on Tuesday, May 12, at 6 pm.


Mr. Gardner’s program summarizes a long term study to develop and implement management steps to recover the Fortymile Caribou Herd. At one time, the Fortymile Herd was one of the largest caribou herds in the world and certainly the most important to Interior Alaska and Western Canada. It resided in both Alaska and Yukon Canada. The herd declined from 100s of thousands down to about 6000 animals during the early 1970s due to a combination of management mistakes, a series of severe winters, and intense predation. The herd declined to such a low level it no longer migrated to large portions of its traditional range including all of Canada.


“It was the most satisfying project I was involved during my career” says Craig Gardner. “Not only did it require interesting biological study but also required fostering close working relationships with other agencies including ones in Canada and more importantly, with a wide variety of First Nation Tribes, public groups, industries, and even the military. We had to consider management steps that were going to affect harvest, predators, and industry. Any drastic changes to help the herd were going to require all groups to willingly compromise their ideals and not try to stop the project politically.”


For about 30 years Mr. Gardner was a biologist for Alaska’s  Department of Fish and Game working as a predator/prey biologist studying impacts of wolf and bear predation on caribou and also studying furbearers including marten and wolverines.  He did a 5 year study developing methods to manage a parasite introduced to Alaska via domestic dogs that , infested the wolf population in parts of the state.    He worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service on polar bears for 4 years and for independent consulting firms studying caribou and walruses for about 2 years.  During graduate work at the University of Alaska he studied wolverines.   He admits that “In my younger years I had the bad habit of taking time off work to chase other passions. During those periods, I ran sled dogs, learned how to fly, and hunted, trapped, and skied as much as possible. I flew supercubs as part of my job and was able to visit a great deal of the state either conducting my own studies or helping on other studies.”


The program is free and open to the public. All are welcome.






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