Of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen
Santa’s reindeer have a tough job, what with flying around the world in a single night. But wild reindeer, also called caribou, cover a lot of ground, too. Every year caribou migrate huge distances between their summer and winter homes. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, a single herd of caribou has been observed making a 3,000 mile migration – and that’s without the advantage of flight!
There are other differences between Santa’s reindeer and their wild brethren. The jolly guy’s herd hunkers down at the North Pole all year long, while most North American caribou prefer to spend winter in Alaska, where the weather is milder and the food supply more abundant. And while Saint Nicks’ herd is modest in size, some caribou herds have up to 500,000 members.
Alaska is as special to us as it is to the wild reindeer. We’ve protected more than 70,000 acres on the nation’s last frontier, including 350 acres of precious habitat for caribou–as well as bear, wolves, Dall sheep, and moose–in Denali National Park. Permanently protecting this wilderness ensures migrating caribou a safe corridor, free of development. You never know, a few of them may be new recruits on their way to the North Pole.