to NWF Main Page
National Forest Week 2003
click to view large images
Lichen, antlers, collar, overheads, 5 pictures (food/habitat/forest
users/hoof pic/3 legged stool)
Crossword puzzle, tracking activity (Space for Species), 5 Billionth Tree
Story – “The Boy Who Found the Lost Tribe of Caribou”
#1 – Quarter with Caribou on it.
- Hold up a quarter. Does anyone know what animal is on the back of most
quarters? If they don’t, show overhead of a quarter. Do you know what
this animal is? Take a few guesses and then identify it as a caribou.
- Caribou have been on the back of our quarters for a long time. Why do
you think they are there? (Take a couple of responses.) …Caribou are
an important part of Canada’s biodiversity. They have been a part
of Canadian wildlife for a very long time.
Overhead #2 – Map of Canadian Caribou
Habitat (where Caribou live).
#3 – Map showing Woodland Caribou habitat in BC.
- It is possible that Caribou have roamed the North for more than a million
are a medium-sized member of the deer family. In Europe, caribou are called
- Point to the areas that show the different groups or species of caribou
and name them:
- Woodland Caribou – a large, dark caribou that
is usually found in small herds in the boreal forests from British Columbia
to Newfoundland (south of the Arctic Circle. There is one very large
herd of over 500 000 that live in the Quebec/Labrador region but in
BC, the herds are small.
- Barren-ground Caribou – is smaller than the
Woodland Caribou and lighter in color. They spend much of the year on
the tundra from Alaska to Baffin Island and tend to migrate the longest
distances between their winter and summer ranges. (Grant’s Caribou
is a type of Barren-ground Caribou)
- Peary Caribou – a small, light-colored caribou
found only in the islands of the Canadian arctic.
- Explain that a fourth type lived on the Queen Charlotte Islands but became
extinct (died off) around the 1920s. No one knows for sure why but it is
thought that changes climate may have caused changes in their habitat (food
and shelter areas) and they were unable to adapt to those changes.
- There are approximately 16,500 Woodland Caribou in BC; approximately half
of what there were when BC was first being settled.
- Woodland Caribou in BC tend to live in small groups.
- In BC, there are 3 types of Woodland Caribou. All 3 “ecotypes”
look about the same, but behave differently because of the environmental
conditions in which they live. (Conditions like: amount and duration of
snow cover, kinds of foods available, topography and predators)
- The three types are shown on the map: Northern Caribou, Boreal Caribou,
and Mountain Caribou.
- Today we are going to look at the Mountain Caribou. They live in an area
that receives much more rain and snow than surrounding regions. Unfortunately,
the Mountain Caribou are a “threatened” species, which means
they are likely to become endangered if we don’t take steps to protect
them. In BC, they are on the “red list” which means endangered
or threatened under BC Wildlife Act.
#4 - Mountain Caribou.
- About 98% of the world’s mountain caribou
live in British Columbia.
- There are approximately 1900 Mt. Caribou in BC.
- Approximately 200 Mountain Caribou live between Revelstoke and Mica Creek,
which means they are a part of the biodiversity in our region. (biodiversity
– all living things).
- Appearance (Props: Antlers, Hoof Picture)
o Bulls weigh approx. 200 kilograms & cows are approx. 135 kg.
o Their color changes with the season. Autumn - generally a medium brown
color with white hair around their rump and in the bull’s ruff (hair
growing under the throat) The head and neck often have a mix of grey, white
and brown hair. Winter – the dark guard hairs break and fall out causing
the brown portion of the body to appear lighter in color.
o Male and female caribou grow antlers…this is not the case with other
deer species. The female antlers are smaller. Show Antlers.
o Hoof design aids the caribou when walking on snow or soft ground. Show
o Hoof print is similar in size to that of a moose but the caribou weighs
half as much. This means the caribou can move quite easily on top of snow.
o The caribou’s coat is very warm because of its hollow, kinked hair
that traps a warm air against its body.
o The short ears, tail and snout help to minimize the loss of heat…We
wear boots and a hat because we can loose heat from out body parts that
aren’t close to our heart but caribou can’t do this so it is
important that the areas furthest from their heart be small so that the
cold can affect them less.
- When calving, caribou will head to higher elevations to distance themselves
Large Pictures of Habitat & Food, 3-Legged Stool & Lichen and Falsebox
- Mountain Caribou live in the Interior Wet Belt, which is an area that
has lots of rain and therefore few fires. Here, the forest is made up of
mainly older, mature trees. Discuss the picture of seasonal habitats.
- The mature trees slowly, over time, develop heavy loads of lichen, which
is the main food source during the winter. It is important that there is
enough snowfall to allow the caribou to reach the lichen growing on the
higher branches in winter. Introduce the picture of food sources and show
samples as you discuss winter/spring/summer food sources.
- During the spring to summer seasons, the Mt. Caribou feed on lichen,
leaves, and shrubs and gradually move upslope following the food supply
of young plants. In early winter, they will move downwards to find food
in the shallow snow and then once again gradually move upwards as the snow
deepens and the only available food source is the lichen up in the tree
- The Mt. Caribou is the only member of the deer family that heads upslope
during the winter deep snow period.
- Mt. Caribou especially like fallen trees and branches as they provide
easy access to lichen.
- Pregnant female caribou or “cows” will move to rugged, high
elevation sites in late May or early June to have their calves…higher
elevations offer protection from predators.
- Mt. Caribou prefer their habitat to have mainly old forest and will live
in gentle highland terrain as well as rugged mountains peaks. A gentle terrain
offers easy movement and less danger of avalanches.
– Ask students to name other users of the forest,
besides caribou. Take 6-8 answers. Discuss the picture showing different users
of the forest. (human uses – logging, mining, dams, power lines, tourism
activities, snowmobilers, trappers, heli-skiing etc. Animal users – large
and small animals, including predators of the caribou and other ungulates.)
#5 – Snowmobile tracts, Heli-skiing & Logging sites.
Overhead #6 –Education
- Ask – In what ways would snowmobilers and loggers affect the habitat
and population of the Mountain Caribou?
o Human use can cause fragmentation of habitat, opening up areas and roadways
that will bring in other ungulates (hoofed mammal) wanting to feed on the
new growth that comes up. These animals will draw more predators such as
wolves. The wolf population has recently increased in the Revelstoke area.
o Opening access to logging, mining, tourism, commercial recreation, pipelines,
hydro lines, heli-skiing, etc. can alter food supply and open up areas to
o Loud noises and fast vehicles can frighten the caribou. This may cause
them to leave their habitat. (In some situations, the caribou have become
accustomed to some noise and have been observed feeding within sight distance
of snowmobilers and loggers. eg. Frisby snowmobile area and winter logging
#7 & #8– Small clear-cut blocks and Partial Cuts (Harvest Planning)
- We can post signs, talk to the public (like we are doing now with you).
Can you think of other ways to teach people about Caribou and how to protect
them? (Take several answers.)
Overhead #9 – Collaring a Caribou.
- Ask - How can forest companies protect the Mountain Caribou? Then show
overhead and discuss how harvest planning can include systems, which mimic
natural disturbances like blow down, or areas with diseases.
o Control human access to key habitat areas.
o Maintain suitable lichen-producing ranges.
- Ask – What other ways can we help protect our Caribou?
o Manage habitat to keep predators away from Caribou.
o Regulate hunting…some areas will have no hunting allowed.
o Control human access to key habitat areas.
o Maintain suitable lichen-producing ranges.
o Consider movement of caribou when planning harvest areas and maintain
this movement through corridors, which will allow the caribou to travel
between low and high elevations.
#10 – Conclusion
- Another way to protect the Caribou is to gain more knowledge about their
habits. Collaring the Caribou and following their movements will give us
more knowledge of key habitats, which we can then protect. Show collar to
- Discuss causes of mortality (top half of overhead, keeping bottom half
- Review: Introduce the picture of the three-legged stool and remind the
students that there are 3 factors need to be managed in order to maintain
caribou population…predator populations, food supply and access.
- Ask students What did you learn about Caribou today. If they need help,
have them take turns reading the facts listed on the bottom half of the
Causes of Mortality in Mountain Caribou,
Number of Caribou
Caribou Facts: In Europe, caribou are called reindeer.
Moutain Caribou spend early winter at low elevations where big trees shelter
the forest floor and their food from first snowfalls.
Mountain Caribou in winter use the 2-3 metre snowpack level at treeline
to act as a platform to reach the lichens that grow on trees.
Mt. Caribou are the only members of the deer family that travel to deep
snow in winter on purpose.
Lichen is slow growing. At high elevations, only the older, mature trees
carry enough lichen to support Mt. Caribou.
Creating reservoirs can remove some of the low elevation habitat. The reservoirs
can flood the productive forestland.
Old trees are valued for their size by loggers, their beauty by hikers,
and their food source by Caribou. It is important to consider the needs of
all users when managing the forest.
Highways and railways can be barriers to the traditional corridors used
by Mountain Caribou.
Increased access to the backcountry can affect the habitat of the caribou.
Research is key to better understanding of and protection for the Mountain