Mountain Caribou

Male caribou in the South Selkirk Mountains

The mountain caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) is red listed (endangered) in B.C. Ninety-eight percent of the world?s 2,500 mountain caribou live in the province. Unless certain factors are reversed, there is a real danger of them facing extinction.


Biodiversity Interactive Map - Mountain Caribou


Range through the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta, from the Peace River south to Jasper National Park; and in the Cariboo, Monashee, Selkirk and Purcell Mountains of British Columbia.  There is one small subpopulation in the South Selkirk Mountains that moves between B.C. and northern Idaho and Washington.

Distinct populations throughout the mountainous areas of the Columbia Basin.


They are a unique ecotype of caribou distinguished from other woodland caribou by their winter diet consisting almost exclusively of arboreal (tree) lichens. This trait allows them to inhabit the deep snow wet belt of the Columbia Basin where arboreal lichens are abundant on older trees. Caribou move seasonally to lower elevations, but only to reach green vegetation in spring and again in early winter when snow at higher elevations has yet to consolidate, making it difficult for animals to move efficiently or to reach arboreal lichens.


Polygynous mating system with harems of up to 12. The rut extends from late September to mid-late October. Gestation is about 230 days, with calves typically born in late May through early June.

Listing and Date

Listing Date
B.C. List Red
COSEWIC Threatened May 2000

Threats to Species

  • Predation (wolf, cougar, and bear)
  • Disturbance (both motorized and non-motorized back country recreation)
  • Loss of habitat (of particular concern is forest harvesting, which removes and fragments suitable mature and old forests)
  • Climate change

Select Reports

Full Report Listing (most recent on top)

For more information on this species, visit:  The Species at Risk Public Registry , The BC Species and Ecosystem Explorer (where you should enter "caribou" in the species Name field) or the provincial Mountain Caribou Recovery program.



Columbia Spotted Frog
Long-toed Salamander
Northern Leopard Frog
Western Toad

Common Nighthawk
Great Blue Heron
Harlequin Duck
Lewis’s Woodpecker
Northern Goshawk
Sharp-tailed Grouse
Vaux’s Swift
Western Screech Owl
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat

Bull Trout
White Sturgeon

Common Camas
Whitebark Pine

Big Brown Bat
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
Grizzly Bear
Selkirk Least Chipmunk
Mountain Caribou
Mountain Goat
Mule Deer
California Myotis
Fringed Myotis
Little Brown Myotis
Long-eared Myotis
Long-legged Myotis
Northern Myotis
Yuma Myotis
Silver-Haired Myotis
Townsend's Big-eared Bat
White-tailed Deer
Yellow-pine Chipmunk

Western Painted Turtle
Western Yellow-bellied Racer
Western Skink

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