CARIBOU. This is the name given the wild reindeer of North America. They lack the symmetry and grace of the true deer, the body being heavy, the legs thick and sturdy, ending in large broad spreading hoofs. Large irregularly branching antlers are borne by both males and females, but are smaller and more slender in the females.
There are two types of caribou. The woodland caribou inhabits the same forests as those which shelter the moose—from Alaska and Canada to northern Maine and Minnesota, and in the Rocky Mountain region to Idaho and Wyoming. It is neither so swift nor so shrewd as the moose, falling an easy prey to hunters and to wolves, and is in danger of being exterminated within the United States. The Barren Ground caribou resembles its woodland relative, but is smaller and paler in color.
It roams the desolate Arctic barrens and tundras be yond the limit of trees. Its northermost range is said to be beyond of north latitude. Early explorers in Alaska and the region east of Bering Strait found herds numbering hundreds of thousands.
When alarmed these caribou break into a clumsy gallop which soon changes to a steady shambling trot that carries them rapidly across country. Their large spreading hoofs, with sharp cup-shaped edges, are admirably adapted to secure a firm footing in the yielding and hummocky surface of their summer haunts, and on the ice and snow in winter. (See Deer ; Reindeer.) Scientific name of woodland caribou, Rangifer caribou; of Barren Ground caribou, Rangifer arcticus.