Boreal Caribou

Boreal Caribou (Woodland Caribou [Boreal population])
Rangifer tarandus caribou
NWT List of Species at Risk: 
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NWT General Status Rank: 
At Risk

Caribou are the only members of the deer family (Cervidae) in which both males and females grow antlers. Males can have massive antlers while those of females are generally much smaller. Caribou are well adapted to their northern environment. Their large, well-insulated hooves prevent sinking when traveling on wetlands and snow and are adapted for digging through snow for food.

Boreal caribou are a distinct population of woodland caribou. Woodland caribou are the largest subspecies of caribou in the NWT; males weigh an average of 150 kg and can reach 1.2 m high at the shoulder. Their brown summer coat turns greyish in winter. In all seasons their neck, mane, underbelly, rump and a patch above each hoof are creamy white. Antlers of woodland caribou are thicker and broader compared to those of barren-ground caribou.

Boreal caribou are similar to northern mountain caribou, the other ecotype of woodland caribou found in the NWT, but have different habitat preferences and behaviour. Boreal caribou live in the forests east of the Mackenzie Mountains, tend to live in small groups, prefer to stay within the forest year-round, and do not migrate. Boreal caribou females space out for calving. By spacing out throughout the forest they reduce the risk of predation.