This year's counting trip has been completed and many reindeer were counted on the isolated peninsulas on the west coast of Svalbard. These localities form one of the core areas for monitoring Svalbard reindeer. Both the population on Brøggerhalvøya and on the islands in Forlandssundet – Sarsøyra and Kaffiøyra – were large this year with consistently good calf production at all monitoring locations.
Svalbard reindeer on the west coast of Svalbard. Photo: Åshild Ø. Pedersen
The collaring program, initiated by COAT and Svalbard environmental protection fund, also showed that there was high survival in both young and adult animals. Almost all GPS collared females (28 in total) were seen in good condition and all calves (13 in total) that were tagged last winter were found. The areas were navigated on foot and by rubber boat between the localities. Many kilometers are covered by each of the three counters when the population structure is mapped. Simultaneously – we scout for marked animals, read GPS collars and ear tags, bring in temperature loggers that are part of COAT's network for climate measurements and feces samples from marked females to be used in standardizing of methods used to study reindeer diet. The research is carried out from the research base in Ny-Ålesund and with important infrastructure in the form of small cabins (barracks) centrally located in the monitoring areas.
One of the small cabins (barracks) on the west coast of Svalbard. Photo: Åshild Ø. Pedersen