Previous research in the Milne Point oilfield in northern Alaska showed that the density of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in the calving period within 1 km of a road was significantly lower after construction than before construction of the road. This was interpreted as displacement from the road and a functional loss of habitat and has been extensively cited as a documented effect of oilfield development on caribou. We continued this study with additional aerial surveys flown during 1991–2001 and compared caribou numbers and density in 6 1-km intervals from the road over 3 time periods: pre-road construction (1978–1981), early post-road construction (1982–1987), and recent post-road construction (1991–2001). During the recent post-road period, the densities of calves and of all caribou were not significantly lower within 1 km of the road than the densities in the pre-road period. In addition, calf density was higher in the interval within 1 km of the road than in the intervals 1–6 km from the road during the recent post-road construction period. The total number of calving caribou observed in the study area has declined since pre-road construction and early post-road periods, but we found no evidence that caribou using the area during calving avoided areas near the road during the recent post-road period. Numbers of caribou in the study area during the post-calving period (after 20 June) during 1991–2001 were highly variable, but generally were higher than during calving. Analyses of relationships between calving and post-calving caribou densities and distance intervals from Milne Point Road suggested that distributions of calves and adult caribou were not strongly influenced by presence of the road.
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