The Caribou, also called caribou in North America, is a species of large white-tailed deer with widespread sub-arctic, tundra, and arctic distribution, historically known to the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. This includes both migratory and sedentary populations. The Caribou’s presence in the region dates back to the early Holocene era, when they occupied large areas of the tundra through to the end of the last Ice Age. They are very adaptable, with an ability to travel in both land and water, so they can be seen from shore to the lake and in every climate.
A medium-sized animal, the Caribou is listed in the classification of mammals as small herbivores. Their diet is composed of a combination of vegetation, seeds, roots, and nuts. During the spring time, they eat a variety of plants including the daffodils, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, lilies, milkweed, raspberries, thistle, alfalfa, and may flowers such as poppy and rose. In winter, they feed on the snowshoe, black bear, moose, deer, and wild fawn.
Because they are winter species, their habits and lifestyle are quite similar to that of the arctic hare. They forage around the snow, using banks and crevasses as their source of shelter, as well as underground holes in the snow to escape. During migration, they use cliffs, creeks and offshore banks as their route. They can spend several days traveling along the coastline before they finally settle at their destination.
For much of their lifetime, a Caribou will stay in one area of its range. For example, the fall migrate south for the winter, only to make their way back north in the spring. A number of migratory seasons exist, each with its own pattern and food supply. A mature male can travel for weeks or even months without leaving his location.
During the maternity season, a single Caribou will become occupied with one mate until she gives birth. This causes a rapid increase in young Caribou joeys. A mother will nurse her joeys for up to five months before they are weaned into maturity.
A calf only needs about three months in the beginning of its life. It grows fast until it reaches one year of age, where it stops growing. In addition to its young, a Caribou gives birth to one to four eggs. The female carries the babies on her back until they are weaned into the habitat of the mother.