Information about: Caribou

Index | Caribou

Note: Information is dated. Do not rely on it.

Caribou. A flat-horned member of the deer family closely related to the European reindeer, and resembling it in appearance and habits. The full-grown animal stands about four feet high and weighs about 475 pounds. Its winter coat consists of a thick felt-like covering of fine hair through which grows the coarser hair of the outer or rain-shedding portion. The legs are thick and muscular, terminating in broad flat hoofs which permit it to walk safely over snow fields or quaking bogs. Its food is moss and lichens for which it ranges the infertile wastes of arctic and sub-arctic America. Although nine species have been described, they can all be divided into two groups: the woodland caribou and the barren-ground caribou. The woodland caribou inhabits the forests and open country of British America from Manitoba eastward to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and the northern part of Maine. The antlers of this group are liberally palmated, and have an arborescent appearance. The barren-ground caribou inhabits the treeless and inhospitable region known as the barren ground of British America, with a range extending from western-Alaska to eastern Greenland. Their most conspicuous habit is that of migration. At stated intervals they gather in great herds and migrate, the general movement being northward in spring and southward in autumn. These herds often consist of thousands of individuals. The antlers of the barren-ground caribou are longer than those of the woodland group, are more scantily branched and have fewer points. The arrangement of points suggests an arm chair. Caribou afford the principal source of food of the Indians inhabiting these regions, and the skins furnish materials for wigwams, harness for dogs, and other purposes.