Since humans first inhabited the Arctic thousands of years ago, caribou have played a central role in their lives as a source of food, tools, energy, and clothing. How will people and caribou coexist in the future? Satellite tracking helps answer this important question, so that human needs can be balanced with those of the caribou.
Female caribou of the Qamanirjuaq and Beverly herds in Canada's Northwest Territories will be tracked this spring as they travel to their calving grounds. Canadian scientists will provide students with satellite-telemetry data that have been collected during the past year. When the story begins in February, the caribou will have endured the deepest part of winter, when darkness prevails and temperatures commonly drop far below zero. How are caribou adapted to this climate? What do they eat? Of equal concern, what eats them? When spring finally arrives, these females will give birth to the next generation, and students will be challenged to guess the location of their calving grounds.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this story for students in southern regions will be the link it provides to students and scientists in the Arctic, from Alaska to Hudson Bay. The powerful rhythm of seasons in the Arctic determines the lives of everything - from polar bears to people. Their stories will be told as the harsh winter environment gives way to spring.