Woodland Caribou



Rangifer tarandus caribou

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It’s me, Caribou of the Tundra Ecotype, and I am the champion of migration among all terrestrial animals!

I am very energetic and I can travel up to 6,000 kilometres per year! In winter, our herd takes refuge in the boreal forest. In the spring, we head out for the northern tundra, where we raise our young during the summer. There we are exposed to the wind (…less mosquitos there…) and we are better protected from predators. When autumn arrives it’s back to the boreal forest.

As for me, Caribou of the Forest Ecotype, I too like to move around, but not quite as much. Who needs an annual migration? I’m happy to stay around favourable areas like the boreal forest. We’ve been nicknamed the gray phantoms of the boreal forest. In winter we congregate where the lichen that we eat is plentiful. Then, in spring and summer, we disperse in the coniferous forest and in the peat bogs.

And it’s me, the Caribou of the Mountain Ecotype, who likes to just stay put! I can be found only at the summit of the McGerrigle Peaks (including Mont Jacques Cartier) and the Chic Choc Mountains (including Mont Albert and Mont Logan) and in the coniferous forests neighbouring Gaspé National Park. I’m comfortable there, so why move?

We, the caribou of Quebec, all belong to the same sub-species . However, biologists have classified us into three distinct groups called ecotypes. Each ecotype lives in a distinctly different milieu. So, over time, the process of natural selection has allowed us to adapt and thrive in that particular milieu. The result – each ecotype has developed particular behaviours and we each even have significant genetic differences.

The Mountain Ecotype – This is the Caribou that can be found in the Chic-Choc Mountains (in Gaspé) and in Torngat (Nunavik). The Gaspesian herd is the only remaining Caribou herd south of the
St. Lawrence River.

The Tundra Ecotype – These are the Caribou that inhabit the Great Northern Tundra. There are two herds – the rivière George herd and the rivière aux Feuilles herd. The latter herd is the world’s largest.

The Forest Ecotype – These Caribou live in small herds year-round in the Boreal Forest, primarily between the 49th and 55th parallels. Some isolated herds can be found further south, such as in the Charlevoix region and near Val-d’Or.


Woodland Caribou



Total Length 173 - 247cm
Shoulder Height 104 - 140 cm
Weight M : 118 - 205 kg F : 80 - 110 kg


12 to 15 years in the wild; 20 years in captivity


Boreal forest, tundra, between the 49th and 55th parallels


Leafy plants, birch and willow twigs, lichen and mushrooms


1 rut per year; 1 young, rarely 2

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