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The role of harvest, predators, and socio-political environment in the dynamics of the Taimyr wild reindeer herd with some lessons for North America

Leonid Kolpasсhikov, Extreme North Agricultural Research Institute
Vladimir Makhailov, St. Petersburg Institute for Informatics and Automation
Don E. Russell, CARMA, Yukon College

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07129-200109

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Abstract

The Taimyr wild reindeer herd, i.e., caribou (Rangifer tarandus), is one of the most important wildlife resources in the Russian Far North and may constitute the largest migratory Rangifer herd in the world. Over the last 60 years the herd has undergone a recovery from low numbers in the 1940s, reaching high densities by 1970 that concerned wildlife managers and domestic husbandry herds, with an 11.7% annual growth rate. At that time an aggressive commercial harvest of the herd was implemented, and organized wolf control was initiated with the goal of stabilizing herd numbers and injecting needed economic activity into the region. These actions dampened the rate of increase throughout the 1970s and 1980s to a 3.0% annual growth rate. From 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of financial capability to sustain the commercial harvest and continue wolf control, the population again increased at a 5.6% annual growth rate, until peaking in 2000 at just more than 1 million animals. Since 2000 the herd has been in decline; harvesting, primarily unregulated, has increased; the wolf population has increased; and range conditions have deteriorated. Understanding what has occurred in the Taimyr range can provide North American managers with valuable lessons in understanding the large migratory herds on this continent, especially given that the social and political situation in Russia enabled intensive management, i.e., harvest and wolf control, that may not be able to be duplicated in North America.

Key words

harvest; Rangifer; reindeer; Russia; Taimyr

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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