Porcupine Caribou Migration
Spring: April 1 - May 31
Spring, Spring Migration and Pre-calving
many animals that migrate during two main periods of the year, spring
and fall, the Porcupine caribou’s annual migration is divided into
8 major periods with many smaller movements in between. We will make this
simpler to fit our 4 major seasons- Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.
1 - May 31:
The caribou, aware of lengthening daylight hours and warming temperatures,
begin to migrate north along the river valleys. The first part of this
season is full of unexpected snowstorms and blizzards sandwiched by warmer,
milder and longer days. Snow depths decrease as they move north beyond
the treeline into the tundra.
As the season progresses, signs of spring are everywhere: ground squirrels
emerging from snowy dens; pussy willows and the odd clump of phlox flowers
already blooming; ptarmigans turning brown from their winter white; creeks
running; and more and more bear tracks merging with the caribou trails
that continue northwest. Cottongrass, one of the caribou's favorite foods,
is in bud.
The first caribou cows reach the coastal plain to birth their calves as
the landscape bursts into spring. Trekkers Karsten and Allison Heuer reported
from the migration trail in the spring of 2003,
celebrate the return of the white-crowned sparrows, horned larks, Lapland
longspurs, phalaropes, long-tailed ducks, rough-legged hawks and short-eared
owls. We watch and laugh as a group of pregnant caribou crowd around
a cow moose and her newborn twins for an impromptu tundra mom meeting.
And just after crossing into Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
four days ago, we marvel at the harsh beauty of seeing our first caribou
calf of the year, born early, already running beside its mother from
some unseen threat hours after being born onto a bed of deep snow in
a cold, north wind."
Lessons for Spring
Follow the Porcupine caribou migration this year:
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