Caribou are a member of the deer family and are adapted to cope with harsh winter conditions. Their large, concave hooves allow them to travel in deep snow conditions. Today, the woodland caribou is one of the most critically endangered mammals in the U.S., with only a few woodland caribou found south of the Canada border each year.
Caribou are well-known for their ability to use tree growing (arboreal) lichens as a major food source. As a result they are most often associated with mature coniferous forests that provide substantial quantities of tree lichens.
Caribou have large hooves that are useful tools for life in the harsh northlands. They are big enough to support the animal’s bulk on snow and to paddle it efficiently through the water. The hoof’s underside is hollowed out like a scoop and used for digging through the snow in search of food. Its sharp edges give the animal good purchase on rocks or ice.
Length: 6 feet (1.8 m). Height: 4 feet (1.2 m) tall at the shoulder.
50-700 pounds (113-318 kg); males are larger than females
There are many subspecies of caribou. They can be found dwelling in forests, on mountains, in the tundra, and even migrating each year between the forests and tundra of the Far North. Approximately half of Canadian caribou are barren-ground caribou. This means they spend almost all of the year, sometimes even the full year, on the tundra from Alaska to Baffin Island.
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