CARIBOU: October Migrations

We’re listening to the sounds of caribou – also known as reindeer. Well, this month, Alaska’s caribou have nearly finished their migrations to their winter ranges.

“Now in late October, going on into November, our caribou have for the most part, reached their wintering areas. Snow is starting to accumulate. We’re entering our period of very cold temperatures and increased darkness here close to the Arctic Circle. And the caribou are conserving energy by remaining fairly sedentary in areas usually where they can depend on low snow depths and abundant forage.”

Ken Whitten is a Research Coordinator with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He tells us that during the summer months, Alaska’s 35 or so herds of caribou live in the far northern and alpine tundra areas. When winter approaches, it’s virtually impossible to avoid heavy snowfall there. And that’s a major reason why the caribou migrate.

“A primary impetus for the fall movements, either southward or downslope to get into forest areas is to reach regions that tend to have either shallower snow or snow that is not packed hard by the wind where they can dig through and get at their favorite foods, lichens on the ground.”

We’ll hear more about Alaskan caribou in future programs and we’d also like to hear from you! Tell us about the rhythms of life in your neck of the woods. Send us an email at pulse@igc.org.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

CARIBOU: October Migrations

Reindeers, or caribou, are finishing up their migrations this month.
Air Date:10/30/1997
Scientist:
Transcript:

We're listening to the sounds of caribou - also known as reindeer. Well, this month, Alaska's caribou have nearly finished their migrations to their winter ranges.

"Now in late October, going on into November, our caribou have for the most part, reached their wintering areas. Snow is starting to accumulate. We're entering our period of very cold temperatures and increased darkness here close to the Arctic Circle. And the caribou are conserving energy by remaining fairly sedentary in areas usually where they can depend on low snow depths and abundant forage."

Ken Whitten is a Research Coordinator with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He tells us that during the summer months, Alaska's 35 or so herds of caribou live in the far northern and alpine tundra areas. When winter approaches, it's virtually impossible to avoid heavy snowfall there. And that's a major reason why the caribou migrate.

"A primary impetus for the fall movements, either southward or downslope to get into forest areas is to reach regions that tend to have either shallower snow or snow that is not packed hard by the wind where they can dig through and get at their favorite foods, lichens on the ground."

We'll hear more about Alaskan caribou in future programs and we'd also like to hear from you! Tell us about the rhythms of life in your neck of the woods. Send us an email at pulse@igc.org.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.