Have you ever wondered where animals go during the winter or whichever months they migrate in? Well Caribou are the most moving while migrating animals. One of the herds that are known to travel the most territory is the Porcupine Caribou herd. They are known to travel between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometers a year. This isn’t an easy task especially considering they travel through spongy muskeg, flooding rivers and snowy mountains.
Caribou are also one of the most unique animals. First off they are mind blowingly smart. They plan exactly where to move and when to do it. Such as during calving season in the spring they make sure that they are relatively clear from predators, and near nutrition. They are even smart enough to categorize the times they migrate at.
There are seven specific seasons for caribou split up into two major sections. However no matter what they are always moving. First is the Spring Migration which is basically just a race to calving grounds. This typically happens between April 1st, and May 31st. Pregnant cows are in a hurry to make it, and they travel an average of 20 km a day. This could be extremely difficult because if its early enough in spring, and there’s still deep snow they’re forced to travel through it. Second is Calving, and this happens between June 1st and 10th. The elder females arrive at calving grounds and give birth. Sadly around a quarter off the offspring is killed by golden eagles, grizzly bears, storms, and lastly accidents during the first month. Third is Post Calving Movements which happens between June 10th and July 15th. This is where the end of the first section and also the stage in which the annual migration begins.
Fourthly is summer which is between July 16th and August 7th. This is mostly when the herd scatters. Most of them are in Northeastern Alaska and Yukon, but they mostly go where they can find food and nurse the young, also where insects aren’t present. Fifth is Fall Migration, and this happens between August 8th and October 7th. This is pretty much the stage in which snow influences there decisions because they slow down the migration if there isn’t much but they move south faster if there is snow. Sixth is Rut and late fall and it happens between October 8th and November 30th. This is when big bulls battle to reproduce. They fight with each other for the privilege to mate with a cow. Lastly, is winter and it happens between December 1st and March 31st. All they do during this period is stay where the snow is soft so that they can paw it and find food.
So overall the Porcupine Caribou herd is largely known of and travels and enormous amount of territory in one year. There are many other herds of caribou that travel different parts of Alaska and the Yukon. In conclusion, Caribou are one of the coolest animals.
- How could the weather affect where or when caribou migrate?
- Why do you think migrating plays such a big role in caribou culture?
- Do you think migration and weather play a part in caribou reproduction? Explain.