50,000 years ago when the land bridge between what is now Russia and what is now Canada was still in existence, large numbers of Kamchatka Reindeer came across to North America and split in two different directions. Some reindeer, who preferred a West-coast lifestyle, migrated almost due south and swam across the shallow channels separating the mainland from the Queen Charlotte Islands where they lived until the early 1900s. The other group, who preferred a more sheltered existence, headed due east and settled in the forests of Maple covering most of northern Canada.

These Maple Reindeer lived almost exclusively on a diet of maple leaves and maple syrup, which the animals licked from the bark of the trees. This maple syrup flavoured their meat, which became a delicacy amongst the First Nations bands of the area. The meat was flavourful and could be eaten easily without requiring sharp implements to cut it. The indigenous peoples hunted sensibly and preserved the numbers of reindeer at manageable levels. At one time, first nations’ chroniclers reported that herds of Maple Reindeer could take two hours to run past a certain spot.

This is an extract from the book Animals Evolution Avoided