Monday, August 16, 2010

Mammals of St Paul: Reindeer

In 1911, twenty five Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) were introduced to St Paul Island in an attempt to breed an alternate food source. by 1921 the herd had swelled to 250 animals and by 1938 there were more than the island could sustain, over 2,000. Due to poor management, over grazing and harsh winters the herd was reduced to 8 individuals in the 1950. Lesson learned, 31 animals were brought back to St Paul from Nunivak Island. The herds are now managed by the USDA, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the local tribal authorities. A permit is required to hunt the reindeer and they are quite skittish as a result of the hunting. When the herd feels threatened they begin to circle just like pioneers in an old west wagon train.
Caribou meat is extremely lean and flavorful... I highly recommend giving it a try if you get a chance... just don't tell the kids you ate Rudolph or you might never be forgiven.


Richard Wong said...

Looks like an amazing place for wildlife photography. Janine Niebrugge was telling me that you were headed over to "St. Paul" after stopping by their house so my first thoughts were, "Minnesota is a long way from Alaska isn't it?". Then she explained they were some remote islands in Alaska. :-)

Rebecca Jackrel said...

Too funny!! I love it. I'm certain my family is wondering why I have to find the farthest St Paul rather than heading into a city.