another yukon river view: caribou crossings

To give you (and myself) a pause from the tension of waiting for the Yukon River to break, I’d like to direct you a recent post on Manuela’s blog Every Day Life in the Northern Yukon Wilderness. Manuela chronicles the flow of Yukon life dozens of kilometres away from any town.

Manuela’s posts are always thoughtful and her account of last week’s caribou crossing up near Green Creek includes the following:

I stood in awe, while those 10 animals were migrating slowly from their winter feeding grounds to their spring calving grounds. The females will give birth soon. Last year’s calves were still nursing – or trying to, I could not tell. They survived a long cold winter, the constant presence of predators, scarcity of food supplies, maggots in their skin, and crossing ice cold rivers. What really got to me though was the realization that none of these natural aspects of their habitat could do as much harm to them as my species has been doing to theirs: Over the last 150 years, humans have reduced the size of local caribou herds to a fraction of their original size. Yesterday, we saw 17 animals, but 70 years ago sternwheeler boats had to stop to give way to thousands of animals crossing the river.

Manuela’s complete post can be found here, with an amazing suite of caribou photos including one of the group sleeping on the ice itself.

(By the way, last year when I first came across Manuela’s blog, it was because her home and property had been damaged by 2009’s sudden, extreme break-up that produced massive ice jams. I wrote about that here. Here’s hoping this year’s melt is more manageable.)

As for the view of the Yukon River near Dawson, today I saw dogs swimming near the shore – a sight unseen since last October. Ahhhh. The so-far slow thaw means the gravel beach is clear enough, and sun-drenched enough, for beer-drinkers to hang out too, while ice floes glow nearby.

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