A group of caribou in the boreal forest.
A small group of caribou in Denali National Park and Preserve.

NPS/Jay Elhard

There are 32 caribou herds in Alaska, with an estimated population of around 750,000. Changes in weather conditions (among other factors) cue their migration. They move from boreal forest areas in the winter to open or coastal tundra areas in the spring for calving. They can cover up to 50 miles a day during migration. Some migration routes have been used for many years, but routes may change suddenly or over time due to food availablity. Many people in Alaska rely on caribou for subsistence.

Also see:
A wilderness Treasure Hunt Unlocks Caribou Secrets, Park Science, Winter 2021
a herd of caribou
Complexity of Caribou Dynamics

Read more about the complexity of caribou population dynamics in a changing climate.

A caribou with calf in the snow.
Monitoring Caribou in the Arctic Network

Caribou are part of the history, traditions, and culture of the Arctic.

Two bull caribou in fall.
Monitoring Caribou in Central Alaska.

Four herds of caribou are found in the Central Alaska parks: Denali, Mentasta, Chisana, and Fortymile.

Learn about caribou in Alaska

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    Last updated: January 2, 2024