Southern mountain caribou are an ecotype of British Columbia’s woodland caribou population. They are globally unique, as they are the world’s southernmost mountain caribou. Federally (COSEWIC) this population is listed as “Endangered”. Both male and female caribou grow antlers. The male’s antlers are typically larger and fall off earlier in the winter than those of females.
Southern mountain caribou feed on arboreal (tree) lichens during the winter when the deep snowpack facilitates accessing lichen on the lower branches of trees. Caribou hooves are similar in size to moose, with a more rounded shape. As caribou generally weigh only one third as much as a moose, they are often able to walk on top of the snowpack, allowing them to overwinter in habitats with snow deeper than can be tolerated by other ungulates. This adaptation to high elevation habitats during the winter separates them from predators which typically inhabit valley bottoms where other ungulates such as deer and moose winter. In the spring some mountain caribou herds move downslope to take advantage of new plant growth and then return to the high elevations for summer and fall.