The Caribou, also called caribou in North America, which is a species of large deer adapted to survive in a cold climate, with wide seasonal range, native to arid, sub-arctic, tundra and high mountain regions of north-central Canada, northern Alaska, and southern Quebec, eastern Washington state, northern United States. This includes both migratory and sedentary populations. Owing to similarities in behavior, both subspecies of this species exist in different parts of the wildlife world. However, there are marked differences in behavior and survival ability between the two populations, which have led to the decline of one subspecies, the Canadian caribou, in recent years.
Decline Caribou population had led to an increase in hunting pressure, especially on the part of hunters hoping to get a trophy elk. Inuit hunters, particularly, have been known to consider these animals their pride and joy. Hunting is considered illegal in many countries, especially in Canada and the United States, but has continued unabated in some areas. These factors have been cited as the leading cause for the decline in Caribou numbers.
Causes for reduction in Caribou population are many and varied; a combination of external and internal factors are said to lead to the decline. Some critics argue that the decline is a result of unnatural accumulation of excessive fat in the Caribou’s body, combined with development of a lack of natural prey in their range. In addition, increasing numbers of caribou are being trapped and sold for meat production; this practice results in significant rise in the number of newborn Caribou calves annually. This, combined with loss of wetlands and habitat enlargement, lead to increased conflict among the different herdsmen, causing lower quality beef and livestock. Another factor cited as a leading cause for reduction in Caribou population is poaching for fur trade.
Many experts believe that the primary responsibility of government in managing the Caribou is through regulation and monitoring. Through such programs, the government seeks to regulate the numbers of caribou, establish a control over trade in beef and other livestock, protect natural habitats and ensure adequate management of fishing and hunting. An effective management program should include strong penalties for hunters who are involved in activities that result in the death of a Caribou. A healthy Caribou population requires a balanced ecological system that is able to manage both the numbers of and fish and wildlife populations as well.
Managers can provide several important services to the community that they help. They can guide and/or manage hunting permits; determine when and how much time a hunter should spend on the ground following their kill; establish a stock assessment that will allow for proper stocking; and implement laws related to hunting. It is important for a manager to consider that Caribou are apex predators, which means that they have adapted biologically to survive. This adaptation also means that their life cycle is very short, with females staying together only for one year. In many parts of the North, this is the longest period of time they spend breeding.
The importance of Caribou management is most apparent at hatcheries where young calves are born. Without proper care and management, there is a good chance these innocent calves could become victims of poisoning, drowning or entanglement in electronic equipment. For this reason, Hatchery managers must be properly trained in order to handle these animals in an ethical and responsible manner. There are also rules that govern when a hunter can take a Caribou from one’s property. The hunter must be able to prove that it is legal to hunt a Caribou within the province and state in which they reside.