Reindeer Grazing

Rangeland Management

BLM Rangeland is managed to be as healthy and productive as feasible. Rangelands are the source of habitat and forage for wild and domestic animals. The primary goal in managing these lands is to ensure land health. When lands are healthy other uses are permitted.

Livestock grazing is Alaska is considered and granted on a case by case basis. Currently, there are no domestic livestock grazing on Bureau lands in Alaska. However, reindeer herders on the Baldwin and Seward Peninsulas have received permits to graze reindeer on 15 designated allotments. 

Reindeer grazing in AK is governed by 43 CFR Part 4300

*Map of reindeer grazing allotments*

Reindeer Grazing Permits    

Only Alaska Native Peoples can apply for reindeer grazing permits. Herds graze on large allotments that may include over a million acres of land. All allotments contain land managed by different land owners or agencies. BLM cooperates with the state, NPS and other land managers to issue grazing permits. Applications for grazing permits are required prior to grazing on BLM managed lands (Grazing Permit Application (Form 4201-1)). The Kobuk-Seward Resource Management Plan provides guidelines for reindeer grazing. No grazing fee is charged, but a $10 filing fee is charged with each application. BLM issues permits within 120 days of receiving a complete application.

Permits are issued for a maximum of 10 years – the permit will specify the number of years that grazing is permitted. Permits indicate the maximum number of reindeer that can be on the permitted area based on range condition. BLM can adjust the number of reindeer if range conditions change. Permits contain special terms and condition to protect wildlife resources.

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Reindeer Facts

Scientific name: Reindeer ( Rangifer tarandus ) are related to caribou and by some considered domesticated caribou.

Drawing of female caribou. ADF&G 2006Drawing of male caribou. ADF&G 2006Habitat: Indigenous to the cold tundra, sparsely-vegetated regions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia and the largest concentration is in Siberia.

Characteristics: Caribou have special adaptations that allow them to survive in the harsh arctic environment. Long legs and broad, flat hooves allow them walk on snow, and a dense woolly undercoat overlain by stiff, hollow guard hairs helps keep them warm. Caribou are brown with a white neck, rump, and feet and often have a white flank stripe. Adult bulls weigh on average 350 to 400 pounds and females average 175 to 225 pounds. Caribou are also the only member of the deer family in which both sexes grow antlers. Antlers of adult bulls are large and massive; those of adult cows are much shorter and are usually more slender.

In fall, caribou mate and a single calf is born in the spring. Reindeer are constantly migrating from place to place in search of grazing lands. Some herds migrate 400 miles, crossing rivers, traversing mountain passes, and dense forest to reach their destination for the season.

More information about this species can be found at the Alaska Department of Fish nad Game website .