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caption: A lone mountain caribou walking through the snow in the mountains of British Columbia. 
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A lone mountain caribou walking through the snow in the mountains of British Columbia.
Credit: David Moskowitz

Saving the mountain caribou

This is a tough story to tell. In 2019 the last of the mountain caribou in the lower 48 states disappeared. Extinct. Deforestation threatens those that are left. Professional Wildlife tracker and photographer David Moskowitz takes us to the frigid mountains of British Columbia to learn about the ancient but fragile ecosystem these majestic reindeer call home.

Mountain caribou have become somewhat of an obsession for David Moskowitz. He was drawn towards documenting them and understanding the unique ecology of how these animals have evolved to survive. But finding them and documenting them is not for the timid.

"If you want to find a mountain caribou, you look at a map and pick the spots you think the mosquitoes are going to be the worst. And that's where you go,” says Moskowitz.

caption: Wildlife tracker and photographer David Moskowitz in the Selkirk mountains in Glacier National Park in BC during the filming of a documentary about Mountain Caribou.
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Wildlife tracker and photographer David Moskowitz in the Selkirk mountains in Glacier National Park in BC during the filming of a documentary about Mountain Caribou.
Credit: Marcus Reynerson

In the winter, most mammals head to lower elevations where weather conditions aren’t as rough. But not the Mountain caribou. They actually migrate up to higher elevations when the cold weather sets in. This gives them better access to lichen (the main thing on their menu) and helps them to avoid predators. But it also makes them very hard to find.

Recommended links from Chris Morgan:

David Moskowitz

The Last Stand: The Vanishing Caribou Rainforest

Caribou Rainforest

Conservation Northwest

Mountaineers Books

THE WILD is a production of KUOW in Seattle in partnership with Chris Morgan and Wildlife Media. It is produced by Matt Martin and edited by Jim Gates. It is hosted, produced and written by Chris Morgan. Fact checking by Apryle Craig. Our theme music is by Michael Parker.