January 23, 2021

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Caribou Tracks

Caribou are one of the most traveled animals on the planet. They may travel  hundreds to thousands of miles each year going from  summer to winter range and back again.  If you were to visit Alaska or parts of Canada you would eventually cross their tracks. Identifying their tracks is fairly easy.

Caribou tracks are very distinctive, being nearly round in shape. Their hoof has two toes like other deer but rather than triangular or tear drop in shape each toe on a Caribou is crescent shaped. The overall shape of their foot  allows them to stay up on top of the snow better.   Caribou tracks measures between 4 to 5 inches long.

 

This track  below shows a good example of a Caribous dew claws which are often present. Their dew claws help them from sinking in the deep snows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caribou scat resembles that of most deer. It can either be in a loose pellet form or clumped pellets resulting from from a succulent diet. The scat measures from 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch in diameter.

A Caribous diet depending on the time of year consists of lichens, moss, leaves, grasses and fungi.

 

One of the few tracks that would overlap the range of Caribou would be that of the Moose. Moose tracks have the more common heart or tear dropped shape to them. There shouldn’t be any confusion in the two just based on their shape.  Moose scat is roughly 3/4 of an inch in diameter and the pellets are around 1 inch long, much larger than the scat of Caribou.

 

Do you think it’s a male or female in this image?

Yes, it’s a trick question, both sexes have antlers but we’ll  never know which one this is. I didn’t get close enough to find out.

Enjoy the Outdoors !!

 

 

 

Reindeer Facts

Here’s a few Reindeer facts to know in case your lucky enough to spot one today or even 8 later this evening. The North American Reindeer is called a Caribou and they live the better part of their lives on the tundra feeding on lichens and mosses. Their hooves are very broad and flat and allow them to keep moving on top of the snow pack without sinking in. The bottom of their hooves are hollowed out which helps them in digging through the snow to find food which they eat up to 12 pounds of per day. They also aid them in swimming, acting as a paddle as they cross many rivers during their long migrations, some Caribou may travel as much as 3,000 miles in one year. The average herd though travels around half that amount. At one time they could be found in much of North America but are now only located in Alaska and parts of Canada, the Alaskan population numbers over 700,000 Caribou !! They also are the only member of the deer family in which both male and females grow a set of antlers. As with all deer they shed their antlers and regrow a new pair each year. December 24th of each year is the best time to spot them. Make sure you have your camera ready!!