Caribou migrate twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall.
Spring migration usually starts in early March as the herd splits into different migration groups. Females, both pregnant and non-pregnant, and yearling calves leave first for the coastal plain where new calves are born and where food is more plentiful. They are soon joined by the bulls and remaining young caribou.
In the fall (August to October), caribou return north to their more mountainous winter grounds.
Caribou in Canada and Alaska migrate long distances twice a year: in the summer to find food high in protein so that they can survive the winter, when they eat lichen which is very low in protein and in the winter to find more agreeable weather, as the summer range can be extremely cold and windy. However, the small herd that lives in Idaho and Montana does not migrate very far, sometimes less than 40 miles. This herd is dwindling due to human disturbance and logging.
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