Being Caribou

Being Caribou

Five Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd
Winner of the Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize
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For eons, female members of the Porcupine caribou herd have made the journey from their winter feeding grounds to their summer calving grounds—which happen to lie on vast reserves of oil. They once roamed borderless wilderness; now they trek from Canada, where they’re protected, to the United States, where they are not.

In April 2003, wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer and filmmaker Leanne Allison set out with the Porcupine caribou herd. Walking along with the animals over four mountain ranges, through hundreds of passes, and across dozens of rivers—a thousand-mile journey altogether, from the Yukon Territory to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and then back again—they reached a new understanding of what is at stake in the debate over drilling for oil.

More than a tale of grand adventure or an activist tract, however, Being Caribou is a “gripping, cinematic tale” (Los Angeles Times) with the “bite of a political tract” (Washington Post) about the power of wilderness and how it returns us to the roots of human instinct. On the caribou’s trail Heuer and Allison learn what is possible when two people immerse themselves in the uniquely wild experience of migration, discovering in the process a different way of being.


Publish Date
5.88 × 9 × 0.69 in
12.5 oz

Praise and Prizes

  • “Eloquent … Being Caribou has the bite of a political tract but is most effective in its quieter moments.”

    Washington Post
  • “A gripping, cinematic tale … You can smell the scat, feel the icy slush in minus 35-degree weather and hear the thundering hoofs, the bleats of newborn calves.”

    Los Angeles Times
  • Being Caribou is one of the best, most evocative, and hard-hitting accounts of man’s inhumanity toward life, and of the need for reconciliation between man and the rest of animate creation, I have ever encountered.”

    Farley Mowat
    author of Never Cry Wolf
  • “A startling paradigm shift. For the sake of both wildlife and our children, we can only hope that this elegant dispatch from a grueling expedition isn’t too late.”

    Jonathan Waterman
    author of In the Shadow of Denali
  • “Appealing and informative … The sort of dirty, difficult, on-the-ground and in-the-field nature title that has not been written about the caribou.”