Mountain caribou live in areas where the snow is too deep to dig through and eat the tree lichen of old forest growth for eight months a year.
Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) reside in some of the most severe environmental conditions in the world. In Canada there are three subspecies of caribou: peary caribou, woodland caribou and barren ground caribou. Peary caribou are only found on the islands of Canada’s far north, while barren ground caribou occupy the far northern boreal forests and arctic tundra in Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Woodland caribou reside in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and throughout the coastal mountains of British Columbia.
In the summer, caribou have grayish-brown coats and white on the edges of the tail and hooves. A caribou’s winter coat is thicker and much lighter in color. Both male and female caribou have beautiful antlers that stretch over their shoulders.
Caribou are grazers that migrate in search of food. Lichens are the central aspect of a caribou’s diet, but they also enjoy other greenery depending on the season and subspecies. Caribou often live in areas where the snow is too deep to dig through and eat the tree lichen of old forest growth.
Caribou weights vary with gender and subspecies, but a mature caribou will generally be between 200 and 600 lbs.