ORONO, Me. — A herd of 25 Canadian caribou stepped unsteadily out of a cattle truck today at the end of a 1,200-mile trip plagued by snowstorms and an ocean ferry ride in raging seas.
Most of the reindeer-like animals from Newfoundland, intended to become the nucleus of a new herd in Maine, where the animals died out at the turn of the century, appeared to be in good condition as they arrived at the University of Maine.
But two had to be carried on stretchers, said Mark McCullough, leader of the Maine caribou transplant project.
One of the animals died in Newfoundland during the trip and another died in New Brunswick.
Snow in Maine and Nova Scotia on Tuesday had pushed back the truck's arrival by several hours.
On Monday night, 80-m.p.h. winds and waves over 40 feet buffeted the ferry, coincidentally named the "Caribou," that carried the truck on the 95-mile trip to the Canadian mainland, damaging the vessel and caking it with ice.
"The caribou rode the storm well. They seemed to ride it lying down," Paul Fournier, spokesman for the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department, said.