03.05.08–Athabascan Word of the Week

caribou_track caribou_1

Caribou = Midzish = Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan Dialect

Bull = Dakelane = Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan Dialect

Calf = Ditsuhje = Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan Dialect

Cow = Mikoch`elane = Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan Dialect

Caribou = Rangifer tarandus

Order: Artiodactyla (even-toed hoofed mammals).

Family: Cervidae (deer).

Range and habitat: Widespread except in southwestern and southeastern Alaska, on tundra and taiga, extending into coniferous fringe areas.

Size and weight: 3 to 4 feet at shoulder; 500+ pounds.

Diet: succulent vegetation, lichen, fungi, willow twigs, and berries; also dropped caribou antlers.

Sounds: generally quiet but capable of loud snorts.

The caribou of Alaskan is the same species as the domesticated reindeer of Europe and Asia. A shaggy brown deerlike animal with a lighter neck and mane, white belly, rump, and tail, males and most females grow large antlers. The caribou is a good skimmer, gaining buoyancy from the air-filled hollow hairs of its coat. It can run at speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour for short distances. Bulls battle for harems of twelve to fifteen cows each fall. Its chief enemies are human hunters. Among the most migratory of all mammals, the caribou often form groups of up to 100,000 animals for spring and fall movements of hundreds of miles.

Both musk-ox and bison tracks might be mistaken for caribou. Those of the caribou are slimmer and nearly always exhibit dewclaw marks.

musk_ox_track bison_track

Cited From: Animal Tracks of Alaska. Written by Chris Stall. Published by The Mountaineers, 1993.



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