Caribou and the Barren Lands
Reviewed: August 29, 2005
By: George Calef
Publisher: Firefly / Canadian Arctic Resources Committee
176 pages, $24.95
This Governor General’s Award winning
book provides a comprehensive look at a subject that keeps turning up in the
news on a regular basis: the migration of caribou. George Calef, a biologist
and photographer, has provided us with a wide-screen look at caribou and their
habitat all across the north.
The book is divided into the five seasons
of the deer, “calving” slipping in there between spring and summer, and with
that addition, Calef takes us through a series of illustrated essays that
show the annual cycles of several different herds, intermixed with human interactions.
There’s a sequence with a hunter from Old Crow in the autumn section, for
There’s a section at the end of the
book which attempts to put the whole ecosystem balancing act into perspective,
assuming that humans are as much a part to that as anything else out there.
To my surprise, this section contains a reasoned argument in favour of wolf
culls (reductions, not eliminations) and takes on the perception that wolves
are just there to thin the herd of the old and infirm, a viewpoint that has
pretty much become gospel since the days when Farley Mowat wrote it in Never
The key thing about this book is the
pictures, which I enjoyed immensely. There are some tremendous images here,
pictures to enjoy and to make you think.