The reindeer industry has persisted on the Seward Peninsula in western Alaska for more than 100 years. Since the mid 1990's the industry has been increasingly threatened by changes in Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WACH) migration paths and winter range. Free-range reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) intermingle with caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) and migrate off designated reindeer ranges. As of spring 2003, eleven of fourteen Seward Peninsula reindeer operations were no longer commercially viable as a result of caribou induced reindeer losses. This loss is significant to an economically depressed region with few development opportunities. An economic input-output model was constructed in this study to analyze the reindeer industry's economic role in the regional economy prior to the loss of reindeer to caribou. Impact scenarios were used to estimate the effect of WACH on the regional economy through decreased output from the reindeer industry. Results show a per annum negative impact of $1.4 million (2000 dollars) on the regional economy with 11 non-operational reindeer herds. If reindeer losses lead to complete elimination of the commercial reindeer industry on the Seward Peninsula, study results show the region would incur a total negative economic impact of more than $17 million.
Thesis (M.S.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2005
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