During the 1989 caribou (Rangifer tarandus) calving season on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (USA), 61 calf carcasses were examined for cause of death and associated pathology. Dead calves were located by low-level aerial searches with two fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter over high density calving areas between the Hulahula and Aichilik rivers. Primary diagnoses included emaciation (39%), malnutrition (8%), stillbirth (21%), trauma (16%), other primary causes (7%), and undetermined causes (8%). Twenty calves had contributory renal tubular degeneration. The findings indicate that factors contributing to nutritional deprivation in calves were the major cause of neonatal mortality; however, factors affecting stillbirth, abortion, or the urogenital system may have major effects on neonatal caribou and warrant further investigation.
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Vol. 29 • No. 2