Learn all about one of Canada’s most iconic species and hear more about how Earth Rangers is working hard to protect them!
What they look like
Chances are if you’ve ever walked around with a pocketful of change, you already know what a caribou looks like. These large mammals are the only members of the deer family whose male and female members both have antlers, which can grow up to 2.5 cm every day during the summer!
In the summer the caribou’s coat is made up mostly of brown fur, with distinctive white patches on its tail, belly, and neck. This brown fur thickens and becomes lighter in the winter, helping the caribou blend in better with the snow. Its half-moon-shaped hooves act like snowshoes that help the caribou walk on the surface of the snow, with sharp edges to keep them from slipping on ice.
Where they live
Besides being found on the back of a Canadian quarter, the Woodland Caribou make their homes in some of Canada’s coldest climates. Some populations roam the boreal forest which provides them with lots of food and protection from predators, while others brave the barren Arctic tundra and have to migrate long distances to find enough food throughout the winter.
What they eat
When there’s lots of food available during the summer months, the caribou loves to munch on the delicious trees and shrubs that fill its forest home. After the growing season ends and these tasty treats become harder to find, the caribou will switch its diet to focus more on what’s still available. Lichen, a moss-like plant that grows on trees and rocks, is a really important food source in the winter, and some caribou will eat over 10 pounds (5 kg) of it every day just to fill up!
Why they need your help
Woodland Caribou that live in the boreal forest need big, tall trees all across their habitat to provide the food and shelter they need to survive. Unfortunately the same boreal forest they call home is also being used by humans who are developing this important area, and this habitat loss is having serious consequences for caribou.
This year, Earth Rangers has partnered with the Pembina Institute to help Woodland Caribou by identifying important areas of their habitat across Alberta to protect. Do your part by starting a Bring Back the Wild campaign today!
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