Monday, June 26, 2006

Caribou Put in an Appearance

We're right in the middle of a caribou migration, and the hills on both sides of town are dotted with small groups of them fattening on the summer vegetation as it turns green. Occasionally, one will streak through town having been separated from its group. I've nearly wiped out the occasional caribou as it bounded across the road to the airport right in front of my truck.

The caribou are skinny right now, and not considered suitable for hunting. Instead, the locals will generally wait another month or so until the animals have a little more meat on them. This also means that there won't be any bullets whizzing around town since the herds will have moved on by the time they are hunted in earnest.

The thing about caribou that impresses me is that these animals can really move. With no exaggeration, a caribou at a mere trot can easily outrun my Labrador, which is quite fast. Apparently, at a full gallop, a caribou can hit speeds of 80 kilometers per hour. This speed (and endurance) comes in handy when trying to outrun a wolf pack. No wonder the wolves basically cull the sick and the aged from the herd because there is no way on earth they'd ever be able to run one down a healthy one.

By the way, a reindeer is simply a domesticated caribou. There have been some attempts to domesticate the caribou in northern Canada, but I understand they are simply too wild and get overstressed while in captivity. Another factoid: female caribou are the only members of the deer family to have horns.

I haven't been able to get any pictures of caribou this year, so the one above was taken two years ago.


Blogger fairscape said...


Nice doggies !

12:22 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Rudolph the red nosed caribou doesn't have the same ring to it either.

1:52 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Fairscape: Thanks.

Fuff: In Quebec there's a drink called
"caribou" which is cheap red wine fortified by 94% alcohol. Certainly enough to give you a red nose.

2:40 PM  

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