1996 32¢ Woodland Caribou
Issue Date: October 2, 1996
City: San Diego, CA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Once ranging throughout Canada and the northern U.S. from New England to Washington state, the woodland caribou’s numbers have been greatly reduced. By the mid-1900s, deforestation had eliminated the caribou in the northeastern states. At the same time, the once-extensive population in the Selkirk Mountains of eastern Washington and Idaho had been reduced to about 100 animals. Although more than one million caribou range throughout western Canada and Alaska today, only about 28 survive in the Selkirk Mountains – representing the last free-ranging caribou of the lower 48 states.
While logging, mining, and forest fires have destroyed much of the spruce and pine forests inhabited by the caribou, the animal’s limited winter food source has also posed several problems. During the winter months caribou depend on lichens for two thirds of their food supply. These lichens often absorb and retain many harmful chemicals, including radioactive derivatives of strontium and cesium. In addition, they are slow growing and are being consumed too rapidly for an adequate food supply to be re-established.
Conservation efforts are aimed at animal protection, herd enhancement, and management of the remaining caribou habitat in the Selkirk Mountains.