Being Caribou: Caribou Facts

18 facts you didn't know about Alaska and Canada's Porcupine Caribou herd.

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Average Distance Traveled by a Porcupine Caribou per day: Between 15 and 20 km (in July) and between 2-3 km per day in winter.

Average Distance Traveled per year: about 3,000 km

Mean Temperature on Calving Grounds (June): 13°C

Mean Temperature on Wintering Grounds (January): -25°C

Maximum Low Temperature on Wintering Grounds: -55°C

Size of Porcupine Caribou’s Range: ~ 250,000 km²

Amount of Porcupine Caribou’s Range Protected: 9,750 km²

in Canada’s Ivvavik National Park, 4,345 km²

in Canada’s Vuntut National Park, 77,000 km²

in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Number of mountain chains in Porcupine Caribou Herd’s Range: Five: Richardson Mountains (NWT and Yukon), Barn Mountains (Yukon), Ogilvie Mountains (Yukon), British Mountains (Yukon), and Brooks Range (Alaska).

Number of Roads in Porcupine Caribou’s Range: One (Dempster Highway in NWT and Yukon of Canada).

Number of Pipelines in Porcupine Caribou’s Range: None

Number of Aboriginal Groups Reliant on the Herd: Five. The Porcupine Herd is hunted by Gwich’in, Northern Tutchone, Han, Inuvialuit and Inupiat people from 17 communities in Alaska, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories).

Number of Animals in the Porcupine Caribou Herd: Between 1972 and 1998, the Porcupine Caribou Herd has numbered as low as 100,000 (1972) and as high as 178,000 (1989) animals. An aerial photo count was completed in 2001 and estimated the herd at 123,000 animals.

Average Calf: Cow ratio: 47-66 calves per 100 cows (in early July)

Cow:Bull ratio: Cows comprise slightly less than half and bulls about a quarter of the herd.

Average Caribou Age: 6 years

Caribou Life Expectancy: 13 years

Top Sources of Caribou Mortality: Wolves and disease for adults; golden eagles, grizzly bears and poor nutrition for newborn calves.

Caribou Age at Sexual Maturity: 2-3 years