CARI­BOU ES­SEN­TIALS

Canadian Wildlife - - WILD THINGS -

Adapted from Hin­ter­land Who’s Who on­line

The cari­bou, or Rangifer taran­dus, is a medi­um­sized mem­ber of the deer fam­ily, Cervi­dae, which in­cludes four other species of deer na­tive to Canada: moose, elk, white-tailed deer and mule deer; it is the same species as the rein­deer of Eura­sia. Only with cari­bou do both males and fe­males carry antlers.

There are about 2.4 mil­lion cari­bou in Canada. De­spite the ap­par­ently large num­ber, some pop­u­la­tions have been de­ter­mined to be at risk by the Com­mit­tee on the Sta­tus of En­dan­gered Wildlife in Canada (on­line, search COSEWIC).

His­tor­i­cally Cana­dian cari­bou have been di­vided into four sub­species based on lo­ca­tion, ge­netic makeup and evo­lu­tion. Six years ago, En­vi­ron­ment Canada com­mis­sioned a re­port re­think­ing species types and di­ver­sity. The study con­sid­ered “phy­lo­ge­net­ics, ge­netic di­ver­sity and struc­ture, mor­phol­ogy, move­ments, be­hav­iour and life his­tory strate­gies, and geographical dis­tri­bu­tion” and con­cluded that there are 12 dis­crete types of cari­bou in Canada.

They iden­ti­fied: Bo­real cari­bou in the bo­real for­est from B.C. and the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries to Labrador; North­ern Moun­tain cari­bou of B.C, Yukon and North­west Ter­ri­to­ries; Cen­tral Moun­tain cari­bou of cen­tral B.C. and Al­berta; South­ern Moun­tain cari­bou of south­ern B.C.; Bar­ren-ground cari­bou of north­ern and north­west Canada; Peary cari­bou in the Arc­tic Ar­chi­pel­ago; Dol­phin-union cari­bou of Vic­to­ria Is­land; Eastern Mi­gra­tory cari­bou of north­ern Labrador, Que­bec, On­tario, and Man­i­toba; New­found­land cari­bou; Torn­gat Moun­tain cari­bou of north­ern Que­bec and Labrador; At­lantic-gaspésie cari­bou, the rem­nant of a pop­u­la­tion in the Gaspé Penin­sula, the Mar­itimes, and north­ern New Eng­land; and

Daw­son’s cari­bou, which went ex­tinct from Haida Gwaii in the 1930s.

Cari­bou are well-adapted to win­ter. Their short, stocky bod­ies con­serve heat, their long legs help them move through snow, and their long dense win­ter coats pro­vide ef­fec­tive in­su­la­tion, even in ex­treme cold and high wind. Large, con­cave hooves splay widely to sup­port the an­i­mal in snow or muskeg, and func­tion as ef­fi­cient scoops when the cari­bou paws through snow to un­cover lichens, a pri­mary food. (The name “cari­bou” may be de­rived from the Mi’kmaq name for the an­i­mal, “xal­ibu,” which means “the one who paws.”) –Staff

Visit hww.ca for a lot more in­for­ma­tion.

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