|Caribou in the Region|
Over four decades of development on the North Slope have shown that caribou can co-exist with development. The Central Arctic Herd, which calves in the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk oil fields, has increased from 3,000 animals to more than 23,400 animals. Facilities in the Coastal Plain area would be designed to protect this important species and their habitat.
Caribou are the most numerous large mammals in the Coastal Plain. Two herds migrate through the area at different times of the year. The Porcupine Caribou Herd (named after the Porcupine River) and the Central Arctic Herd. The Porcupine Herd, which numbers approximately 123,000 animals, generally spends time during the summer months on the Coastal Plain, and the smaller Central Arctic Herd, approximately 32,000 animals, stay to the west of the Coastal Plain. The following discussion focuses on the Porcupine Herd, but basic features of the ecology and annual cycle of events are similar for both groups.
The caribou segregate themselves into groups which migrate at different times. Pregnant females along with some yearlings and barren cows are the first to migrate, followed by bulls and the remaining juveniles. In mid-to-late May the pregnant females arrive on the North Slope, while the others follow a few weeks later.
Central Arctic Herd
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