Frequently asked questions
What does Caribou Patrol do?
Caribou Patrol conducts road patrols during critical times of the year (like migration across Highway 40 in the spring and fall). We also collect wildlife information and enhance awareness about caribou through various education and outreach activities.
How many caribou are in Grande Cache?
We don't get updated population estimates from the Government of Alberta or the Government of Canada for the caribou herds in our region very often. In fact, the last published numbers we can find for the caribou herds in west-central Alberta are from the federal caribou recovery strategies and they date back to 2012 (which means these numbers are probably a decade old already!). These are the last "official" estimates we have:
What is the different between moose, elk, caribou and deer?
Caribou are a medium-sized member of the deer family. Moose, elk, caribou and deer are like cousins. Moose are the largest in this group and are often all brown. Elk are generally the next in line size wise and they are light brown with a dark brown neck and a white rump. Caribou often have a dark brown body with a light cream coloured neck, mane, tail and rump. We have two types of deer in west-central Alberta (white-tailed deer and mule deer) and they are usually smaller than caribou. See page 8 of our EduKit booklet for comparisons.
Are caribou endangered?
Three of our four herds are mountain caribou and it has been recommended by COSEWIC that they be listed as "endangered" under the federal Species At Risk Act (SARA). The boreal herd in our area is listed as "threatened" under SARA.
Why do caribou need to cross the highway?
Mountain caribou migrate to a small extent. One of our herds (the A la Peche herd) has to cross a major highway (Highway 40) in order to migrate because the highway was built in a way that completely bisects their summer and winter ranges.
What should I do if I see a caribou on the road?
Please report all caribou sightings in west-central Alberta to the Caribou Patrol Program. You can do this using whichever method you prefer:
What should I do if I see a deceased caribou?
Please report it to us immediately. All dead caribou can contribute to science and research that may benefit the herd in the long term. We have permission from the Government of Alberta to collect the body. A Caribou Patrol crew will be dispatched immediately so the body doesn't get damaged any further or eaten by scavengers. Use the same reporting methods as you would for a live caribou sighting.
How do I report a caribou sighting?
Are caribou and reindeer the same animal?
Yes! Caribou is the more common name in North America but reindeer is the name used in Scandinavia and Russia. They are all actually one and the same. They may look and act a bit different but they belong to the same genus and species.
Why is the suggested speed limit 70 kilometers in some sections of Highway 40?
Common areas or pathways that wildlife uses to cross a highway are usually marked to increase public safety. A reduced speed limit of 70-80 km/hr is very common in a wildlife crossing zone as it is one of the primary ways to decrease the likelihood of a fatality in the event of a collision, human or wildlife. During migration periods, when caribou may be found ON or NEAR the highway at ANY TIME of DAY or NIGHT, additional signs will be posted letting the public know to slow down and drive with extra caution in certain areas.