Reactions of Large Groups of Caribou to a Pipeline Corridor on the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska


  • Walter T. Smith
  • Raymond D. Cameron



Animal behaviour, Caribou, Environmental impacts, Insects, Pipelines, Kuparuk River region, Alaska


Two large groups of mosquito-harassed caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) were followed for 8-12 h as they repeatedly attempted to cross an elevated pipeline in the Kuparuk Development Area near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. In 1981, 46% of a group of 917 eventually crossed beneath elevated portions of the pipeline in 26 separate attempts, 13% crossed a section of buried pipe in two attempts, 22% trotted parallel to the pipeline for 32 km and did not cross, and 19% separated from the group and were not accounted for. In 1982, 26% of a group of 655 crossed under elevated portions of the pipeline in 36 attempts, 37% crossed at a buried section in one attempt, and 37% left the main group and could not be accounted for. The majority of crossing attempts occured near intersections of lakes with the road/pipeline complex, but crossing success was highest at a section of buried pipe isolated from the road traffic.

Key words: caribou, pipeline, petroleum development, insect harassment, Kuparuk Oil Field