Rangifer tarandus granti
DESCRIPTION Caribou from the main part of Alaska and the northern Yukon (Stone type) are large and dark-colored. Those from the Alaska Peninsula (Grant type) are somewhat smaller and lighter in color, with the antler beams widely spread and curving sharply forward. Late season bulls have startlingly white necks and manes. Bulls weigh 400-500 pounds (181-227 kg).
BEHAVIOR Alaska-Yukon barren ground caribou are migratory, with historical migration routes that often cover hundreds of miles. Biologists have separated various populations into so-called herds based on these migration routes. A herd may contain more than 100,000 animals that will cover hundreds-even thousands-of square miles at any given time. Named herds include the Adak, Alaska Peninsula, Beaver, Chisana, Delta, Fortymile, Kenai, Mentasta, Mt. McKinley, Mulchatna, Nelchina, Porcupine, and Western Arctic. During the summer months, caribou will be scattered and fairly resident in a given region. As autumn approaches, they band together into increasingly larger groups and begin their migration to winter pastures. They are on the move constantly during migration, feeding as they go and generally heading into the prevailing wind. Wolf packs are a part of the migration, following the herds and living off them.
HABITAT Tundra and adjacent forest.
DISTRIBUTION Alaska: Most of the state. Yukon: North of the southern boundary of Game Management Zone 2 (1978 regulations), and further identified as north of the Stewart River and-from the junction of the Stewart and Yukon rivers-north of the Yukon River. Northwest Territories: North of latitude 66°N and west of the Mackenzie River.
REMARKS This is the most widely hunted subspecies. Its migrations are awesome spectacles, but it can be frustrating at times to hunt because of the difficulty in sorting out the trophy bulls from the great mass of animals. It also is no easy matter to match up antlers with the right body as the herd goes by. One should wait for the animals at the back of a group, for this is where the larger bulls tend to be. It is possible to approach a moving herd quite closely; at times a man on horseback can almost ride into a herd.
TAXONOMIC NOTES At one time, caribou from the Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Island were considered a separate subspecies, granti (Grant caribou), and those from the rest of Alaska and the northern Yukon were called stonei (Stone caribou). They were lumped by Banfield (1961) as granti (J. A. Allen, 1902).