Boreal woodland caribou

Boreal woodland caribou

SUBSPECIES OF

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SPECIES
Rangifer tarandus caribou

The boreal woodland caribou, also known as woodland caribou, boreal forest caribou and forest-dwelling caribou, is a North American subspecies of reindeer with the vast majority of animals in Canada. Unlike the Porcupine caribou and barren-ground caribou, boreal woodland caribou are primarily, but not always, sedentary. The boreal woodland caribou is the largest of the caribou subspecies and is darker in colour than the barren-ground caribou. Valerius Geist, specialist on large North American mammals, described the "true" woodland caribou as ”the uniformly dark, small-maned type with the frontally emphasized, flat-beamed antlers" which is "scattered thinly along the southern rim of North American caribou distribution". Geist asserts that ”the true woodland caribou is very rare, in very great difficulties and requires the most urgent of attention", but suggests that this urgency is compromised by the inclusion of the Newfoundland caribou, the Labrador caribou, and Osborn's caribou in the Rangifer tarandus caribou subspecies. In Geist's opinion, the inclusion of these additional populations obscures the precarious position of the "true" woodland caribou. They prefer lichen-rich mature forests and mainly live in marshes, bogs, lakes and river regions. The historic range of the boreal woodland caribou covered over half of present-day Canada, stretching from Alaska to Newfoundland and Labrador. The national meta-population of this sedentary boreal ecotype spans the boreal forest from the Northwest Territories to Labrador . Their former range stretched south into the contiguous United States. By 2019, the last individual in the Lower 48 was captured and taken to a rehab center in British Columbia, thus marking the extirpation of the caribou in the contiguous U.S. The boreal woodland caribou was designated as threatened in 2002 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada . Environment Canada reported in 2011 that there were approximately 34,000 boreal caribou in 51 ranges remaining in Canada.. In a joint report by Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the David Suzuki Foundation, on the status of boreal woodland caribou, claim that "the biggest risk to caribou is industrial development, which fragments their habitat and exposes them to greater predation. Scientists consider only 30% of Canada’s boreal woodland caribou populations to be self-sustaining." "They are extremely sensitive to both natural and human disturbance, and to habitat damage and fragmentation brought about by resource exploration, road building, and other human activity. New forest growth following destruction of vegetation provides habitat and food for other ungulates, which in turn attracts more predators, putting pressure on woodland caribou." Compared to barren-ground caribou or Alaskan caribou, boreal woodland caribou do not form large aggregations and are more dispersed particularly at calving time. Their seasonal movements are not as extensive. Mallory and Hillis explained how, "In North America populations of the woodland caribou subspecies typically form small isolated herds in winter but are relatively sedentary and migrate only short distances during the rest of the year." The name caribou was probably derived from the Mi'kmaq word xalibu or qalipu meaning "the one who paws". According to the then-Canadian Wildlife Service Chief Mammalogist, Frank Banfield, the earliest record of Rangifer tarandus caribou in North America is from a 1.6 million year old tooth found in the Yukon Territory. Other early records of caribou include a "45,500-year-old cranial fragment from the Yukon and a 40,600-year-old antler from Quebec." The ancestral origins of caribou prior to the last glaciation, which occurred approximately 80,000 to 10,000 years ago, are not well understood, however, during the last glaciation it is known that caribou were abundant and distributed in non-glaciated refugia both north and south of the Laurentide ice sheet.— Banfield 1961, Martin and Klein 1984, cited in Wilkerson 2010 The caribou design on the Royal Canadian Mint quarter was first used in 1937.

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Habits and Lifestyle

Diet and Nutrition

References

1. Boreal woodland caribou Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boreal_woodland_caribou

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