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.
Four 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? Will these four caribou survive the winter? When spring finally arrives, it will be an urgent time for these females. After a long trek, they'll give birth to the next generation, and students will be challenged to guess the location of their critical calving grounds.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this story for students in southern regions will be the link it provides to students in the Arctic, from Alaska to Hudson Bay. Together students will explore the powerful rhythm of life in the Arctic and some of the complex issues surrounding caribou, wilderness conservation and the need for resource development.