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Caribou Photos

Caribou on Tundra

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Caribou Herd Photos
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Caribou in Denali National Park
Caribou Photos

Alaska is home to some of the wildest and most endangered wildlife. The Caribou, a member of the deer family, is one of the most unique. At Alaska Stock Images, you will find a wide variety of Alaska photos including Caribou photos. To find more pictures of Alaska or photos of Caribou, visit our search page.

Caribou herd crossing river
Caribou Crossing Kobuk River
The Caribou is truly an artic region land mammal. Found mostly in the northern regions of Russia, North America, and Scandinavia, the Caribou prefer roaming the northern forests and tundra found in these areas. The world population of Caribou is nearly 5 million, and Alaska's population is nearly one fifth. Alaska's Caribou are distributed into 32 different herds. These herds generally remain separate during the calving season but often will mix together during the winter.
Caribou Calf
Young Caribou calf

There is often confusion over what to call a Caribou. Is it a Caribou or a Reindeer? This confusion may come from the fact that Caribou are called Reindeer in Europe. Also, domesticated Caribou are referred to as Reindeer in North America. In truth, all Caribou and Reindeer are the same species. There are seven subspecies of Caribou but only the "barren-ground" subspecies resides in Alaska.

The Caribou are considerably smaller than the Alaskan Moose. Weighing a mere 400 to 700 pounds, the male Caribou seems to be dwarfed by some of the largest Moose. A Caribou calf is born at about 13 pounds but generally doubles its weight within a couple weeks. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Caribou is its hoof. Formed as large concave, widely spread hoof, it functions well for supporting the Caribou in snow, soft tundra, and even as "paddles" when crossing rivers. The Caribou also sports a dramatic and large set of antlers. Both the male and female grow the antlers although the female's tends to be smaller and more slender. Both sexes will shed their antlers in the Fall except for a female that is pregnant will retain her antlers.

The females generally start producing calves at about two years of age and produce one calf a year. Twins are very rare. In order to protect their young from predators such as the wolf, grizzly bear, and even eagles, they congregate in large herds near the coast or high in the mountains. These areas also provide protection and relief from the heat and the unrelenting insects. Once the heat and insects have subsided in late July and August, the Caribou make their move to more lush feeding grounds and spend their time eating and preparing for the winter.

Caribou herd gather for protection
Caribou herd in ANWR
The females generally start producing calves at about two years of age and produce one calf a year. Twins are very rare. In order to protect their young from predators such as the wolf, grizzly bear, and even eagles, they congregate in large herds near the coast or high in the mountains. These areas also provide protection and relief from the heat and the unrelenting insects. Once the heat and insects have subsided in late July and August, the Caribou make their move to more lush feeding grounds and spend their time eating and preparing for the winter.
caribou near pipeline
Caribou near pipeline
A controversy has often centered on whether the Alaska Pipeline keeps the Caribou herds from their natural migration patterns. However, since the construction of the pipeline, the Caribou have been able to adapt and continue their usual patterns of movement. As unique and dramatic presences on Alaska's landscape, the Caribou continues to be a well-loved ambassador of Alaska.





Books of Interest:

Caribou Rising - Rick Bass (author) turns his focus to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He visited there to join the Gwich-'in tribe in its annual hunt for the life-sustaining caribou.

Caribou: Wanderer of the Tundra - this book captures this elusive animal in the stunning photographs and words of Alaska's noted wildlife photographer and author, Tom Walker








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