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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Woodland Caribou - Rangifer tarandus caribou

Native Species

Global Rank: G5T5
State Rank: SX

Agency Status


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General Description
We do not yet have descriptive information on this species.  Please try the buttons above to search for information from other sources.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Western Hemisphere Range


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 68

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Spring: follow green-up, lower elevations, open timber; females calve at higher elevation slopes and ridges. Summer: mature spruce-fir, north slopes; rut habitat similar, moister, denser. Early Winter: old growth cedar-hemlock. Late Winter: mature subalpine fir.

Food Habits
Winter: arboreal lichens. Spring: forbs and shrubs. Summer: Vaccinium membranaceum and Valeriana sitchensis. Fall and early Winter: evergreen forbs and shrubs and arboreal lichens.

26 to 28 caribou in northern ID, southern BC, 3 to 5 calves, 11 to 13 cows, 3 to 10 immature bulls, 3 to 4 mature bulls, cows, calves, immature bulls usually found together in 3.4 groups, mature bulls often more solitary - often move south.

Reproductive Characteristics
Selkirk herd raised 3 calves 1982 and 84, 5 calves in 1985. Calving second week of June at high elevations; high early calf mortality, maybe as high as 50 to 75% annually. Rut mid-September to October.

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Anonymous. 1953. Caribou on the Yaak. Montana Wildlife. August.
    • Bergerud, A.T. 1973. Movement and rutting behavior of Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) at Mount Albert, Quebec. Canadian Field-Naturalist 87:357-369.
    • Cameron, R.D. 1994. Reproductive pauses by female caribou. Journal of Mammalogy 75(1):10-13.
    • Chadwick, D.H. 1982. Caribou south of the border? National Wildlife 20(5):40-42.
    • Child, K.N. 1980. Caribou in British Columbia. Province of British Columbia, Ministry of the Environment Informational Pamphlet. 4 p.
    • Drumheller, S. Biologists losing battle to save dwindling caribou. Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint, ID: The Spokesman Review.
    • Drumheller, S. Caribou herd up for adoption. Coeur d'Alene, ID: The Spokesman-Review. 27 August 2000. p. A8.
    • Evans, H.F. 1960. A preliminary investigation of caribou in northwestern United States. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 145 pp.
    • Evans, H.F. 1964. An investigation of woodland caribou in northwestern United States. North American Wildife and Natural Resources Conference 29:445-453.
    • Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
    • Gebrke, C. 1982. Prognosis gloomy for Idaho caribou. High Country News 14(21).
    • Helena Independent Record. Are caribou hiding in the hills? Helena, MT: Independent Record. 15 February 1983.
    • Helena Independent Record. No trace of caribou found in northwest Montana search. Helena, MT: Independent Record. 30 April 1986.
    • Hoffmann, R.S. and D.L. Pattie. 1968. A guide to Montana mammals: identification, habitat, distribution, and abundance. Missoula, MT: University of Montana. 133 p.
    • Jerry, D. 1984. Selkirk Mountain caribou management plan/recovery plan. Portland, OR: U.S. Fish Wildlife Service, Idaho Panhandle NF. 121 p.
    • Joslin, Gayle, and Heidi B. Youmans. 1999. Effects of recreation on Rocky Mountain wildlife: a review for Montana. [Montana]: Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society.
    • Manley, T.L. 1986. Status review of woodland caribou in Montana. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Final Progress Report. 84 p.
    • Miller, D.R. 1977. Feasibility of reintroducing caribou in Glacier National Park [1976 progress report]. P. 49 in K. L. McArthur, comp., 1976 Annual Research Summary, Glacier National Park. USDI National Park Service, Glacier National Park. 64 pp.
    • Miller, D.R. 1977. The feasibility of reintroducing caribou in Glacier National Park: a preliminary study. Unpubl. Rep. 16 pp.
    • National Audubon Society Newsletter. Truce calms Idaho caribou conflict. New York, NY: NAS Newsletter. June 1986. p. 3.
    • Nelson Jr., L. and W. Baker. The woodland caribou: bigfoot of the Selkirks. Moscow, ID: USDA Forest Service and Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Pamphlet.
    • Peterson, R. L. 1966. The mammals of eastern Canada. Oxford University Press. Toronto, Canada. 465 pp.
    • Rominger, E. 1990. Research continues on augmentation of the southern Selkirk Mountain caribou herd. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin 15(8):1.
    • Scott, M.D. and G. Servheen. 1985. Caribou ecology. Idaho Department of Fish & Game. Job completion report Project #W-160-R-12. 136 p.
    • Servheen, G. and L.J. Lyon. 1989. Habitat use by woodland caribou in the Selkirk Mountains. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 53(1): 230-237.
    • Stephenson, R.O., D.V. Grangaard and J. Burch. 1991. Lynx, Felis lynx, predation on red foxes, Vulpes vulpes, caribou, Rangifer tarandus, and Dall sheep, Ovis dalli, in Alaska. Can. Field-Nat. 105:255-262.
    • USFWS. 1986. Proposed Rules List of Animal Petition Findings. Federal Register 51(6):997.
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Citation for data on this website:
Woodland Caribou — Rangifer tarandus caribou.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from