Caribou in North America are actually just wild reindeer. These animals are literally born to run—a Caribou calf can be up and running within 90 minutes of its birth. With speeds of 60-80 miles per hour, some caribou herds migrate more than 3,000 miles every year to their calving grounds—farther than any other terrestrial migration on Earth. The caribou makes this epic journey across different types of terrain using special, large hooves that act like snowshoes on snow and soggy tundra and efficient paddles in fast-flowing rivers.
Climate Change Impacts
Climate change is increasing moisture in the Arctic air, leading to unusually freezing rains in the fall that can put a impenetrable glaze of ice over the lichens that caribou prefer to feed on. This robs the hungry, migrating animals of one of their most important winter food sources. Changes in climate could also favor mosquitoes, flies, and other parasites that torment caribou and prevent them from feeding and storing up energy for the winter.