Golden Eagle Gets Second Chance

Golden Eagle Gets Second Chance

Golden Eagle Gets Second Chance

Photo credit:  L. Caskenette

A golden eagle was admitted Wednesday evening, November 24th 2021, to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. This individual, who is quite a bit bigger than the last golden eagle in our care, was found by a member of the public in the middle of the road, in between Haines Junction and Mendenhall area.

Upon initial assessment of the animal there appeared to be no broken bones but was severely hypothermic. Given it was found in the middle of the HWY, Dr. Maria Hallock guesses it was perhaps struck by a vehicle, concussed and resting in place but ultimately becoming weaker due to extended immobility in the extreme cold. While its not certain how long the animal was there for it was enough for the animal to be near frozen state upon its discovery. 

On Thursday morning the eagle was given additional fluids, on top of the fluids it received upon its arrival the evening prior. Some chicken was fed to the eagle in the later part of the Thursday along with a quail. 

On Friday the eagle appeared more responsive and alert and eager to eat by itself. This care and close observation occurred inside the Rehabilitation building where Dr. Maria Hallock waited for the animal to defecate – poop, for assessing continued signs of improvement and health in the GI tract – all good there by the way! 

The eagle will spend the next several days in the Centre being closed monitored. While during the day it will spend time in an outside care room, in the evenings it will come inside. 

If all continues well in its progress and recovery a release back to the wild could possibly happen sometime next week. 

Had this person not taken the steps they did, including assessing the animals from a safe distance and calling Conservation Officers and subsequently the Preserve, this eagle would very likely have succumbed to the elements or get fatally struck by a vehicle.

We are so grateful to live among a community that values wildlife, that cares about our natural world – it’s our mission, to connect people to the natural world and everyday we’re inspired by the landscape, animals and people that make this incredible territory, the Yukon, a place that is wild at heart <3

Lindsay Caskenette

Lindsay Caskenette

Manager of Visitor Services

Lindsay joined the Wildlife Preserve team March 2014. Originally from Ontario, she came to the Yukon in search of new adventures and new career challenges. Lindsay holds a degree in Environmental Studies with honours from Wilfrid Laurier University and brings with her a strong passion to share what nature, animals and the environment can teach us.

867-456-7400
lindsay@yukonwildlife.ca

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Preparing for Winter – Adaption or Bust!

Preparing for Winter – Adaption or Bust!

Preparing for Winter – Adaption or Bust!

10 min read –

Some winters in the Yukon can be severe, and other years, they can be mild. Weather patterns are fickle and may change day by day. As the winter season may last for up to nearly six months, animals in the wild have several preparations to perform before they are ready to withstand the cold temperatures and make a living in the snow and ice-covered environments they depend on for food.

Some animals migrate south to warmer climes as they do not have the physical attributes like dense fur or feathers to shield them from the cold. Others migrate because the foods they depend on are not available here during the winter season.

Swans are seen in fall 2021 overhead the Wildlife Preserve on their migration south. Photo Credit: J.Paleczny.

 

The animals that remain here over the winter adapt by growing thicker coats of fur, hair or feathers to keep them warm, they also eat more to add to the fat layer under their hides which will act as both an insulator and an energy battery. Still some other animals hibernate under the ground or in other natural shelters where they will spend the winter season in a deep sleep or ’torpor’ when they do not wake up to eat or perform other activities, they may however become somewhat active in the short -term if warm weather causes meltwater to flow into their resting place or similar disturbances rouse them.

Hibernation is a physical state where an animal’s body function slows down in order to conserve energy through a seasonal period of no food and water. This slower body function is characterized by a decrease in body temperature and reduced respiration or breathing. The animal will generally curl up into a tight ball to help keep warm as their body temperature drops, and respiration and heart rate slow down. These actions reduce the amount of energy the animal must expend to stay alive so it’s able to live off fat reserves it has developed instead of constantly having to seek out fresh food.

Some species like bears give birth in their dens in the latter part of their hibernation, whereby the mother’s nursing of the offspring will further reduce her energy reserves.

Arctic Ground Squirrels, or common gophers are typically the first species to begin hibernation and have the most extended sleep of any hibernating mammal.  They begin their hibernation usually around the middle to end of September, however if weather conditions are extreme, they may hibernate as early as August. The females normally go underground first followed by the males a few weeks later. Ground Squirrels gather edible plants, seeds, rose hips, berries and other green vegetation and cache this food away for later use. They do not wake up from their hibernation to eat, but rather they store this food for the early spring season when they emerge from their hibernation dens, usually in late April or early May. A time when there may still be a meter of snow on the ground and long before new fresh vegetation begins to grow. The foods they cache in the fall will sustain them in the spring until new vegetation becomes available once again.

A ground squirrel emerges from hibernation to find several inches of snow still on the ground. Back to bed!
Photo credit: L.Caskenette

While we’re on the topic of food, many animal species spend the latter part of the summer and autumn season gorging on food to add to their fat reserves. It is called hyperphagia which means overeating. Having an abundance of fat helps the animals to endure hibernation better. Even those creatures that do not hibernate will often eat more to add to their fat reserves, and some others cache away food for consumption over the winter months.

Arctic Ground Squirrel gathering dried grasses.  Some animals, such as rodents, gather food when it is in abundance and store it for their needs over the winter, or early spring, months.

Chickadees and some other bird species will gather and hide food in the summer season and come back later in the year to consume it. Same too for red squirrels that gather pinecones and mushrooms and store these in abundance to help them survive a cold frosty winter.

Pine cone cache.
Photo credit: D.Caldwell. 

However, some creatures like the Wood Frog employ a different hibernation strategy to get through the winter season. These frogs have adapted to cold climates by freezing their entire bodies over the winter. After eating until they are stuffed, they crawl a few inches under the mud of still-water lakes and ponds where they stop breathing and their hearts stop beating and they freeze rock solid. Their bodies produce a special antifreeze substance that prevents ice from freezing within their cells, which would be deadly. Ice does form, however, in the spaces between the cells. When the weather warms in the spring, the frogs thaw and begin feeding and mating again, often beginning their mating season as soon as the ice starts to melt off the lakes and ponds.

Left to right: Wood Frog illustration; Nature Camp kids partake in dipnetting, exploring what’s in the water ecosystem; a tadpole.

Many species like moose, caribou and mountain sheep concluded their breeding cycles in the autumn months meaning the females will be carrying developing fetuses over the winter season. Nutritional consumption over the winter will influence the health of the offspring when born in the spring. Also, threats from predators and other sources may influence the health of the mothers if they become overly stressed which may in turn have some effect on how robust the offspring are in their early weeks of life.

Left to right: moose in snowy winter, post rut; look for the female moose among the Yukon scene; a caribou cow and calf in the spring – the grass isnt’t green yet! 
Photo credit: L.Caskenette & J.Paleczny

Some species like Thinhorn Sheep gather in communal groups over the winter for the safety of the herd. After mating in late November and early December the males and females go their separate ways with the females and last year`s offspring often gathered together in groups on a south-facing hillside.

Thinhorn sheep congregate.
Photo Credit: J.Paleczny.

A south facing hill will typically produce better grazing due to the amount of sunlight received before the snow fell; and animals can benefit from a south facing location when the sun is at its lowest on the horizon during the winter weeks. Solstice, being on Dec. 21st, will only produce direct sunlight for a few limited hours.  These few hours may provide warming from the sun`s radiation which is welcomed by most warm-blooded creatures.

Thinhorn sheep congregate on a snowy, but south-facing slope.
Photo Credit: J.Paleczny.

Looking at a grassland pasture in the winter season, many are not aware of the vast community of animals that live under the snow cover. The temperature under the snow`s crust is often some degrees warmer than the exposed air above the surface. There are networks of tunnels and middens – nests made from long grasses, moss and similar vegetation.

Vole tunels in the snow.
Photo curteousy of and credit

The networks made by these inhabitants allow them to seek new food resources, find mating partners and provides safety from predators such as the Short-tailed Weasel who hunts Red-backed Voles for both food and they strip the fur off the vole to insulate their dens. 

Short tailed weasel with Vole.
Photo credit: D. Caldwell

Many visitors ask why we leave the antler sheds on the ground where they fall off the animal. These antlers are important resources for the many rodents and other species that live beneath the snow and grasses. Antlers are rich in calcium and other nutrients that help the smaller creatures to endure the winter when nutrition is more difficult to acquire.  Nature wastes nothing! 

Left to right: a say’s phoebe lands on an antler shed; elk in the foreground of a recent antler shed.
Photo credit: J.Paleczny

Winter also creates challenges to carnivores like foxes, weasels and lynx. Consider, one of their summer food items are migratory songbirds which have migrated south in late August. As noted above, ground squirrels – a primary summer food for carnivores – will begin hibernating in August or September which leaves these small predators a primary diet of mice and similar rodents to eat for the next six months. Rabbits and grouse are also available in limited quantities, and these carnivores may receive a special treat in cleaning up the carcass of an animal killed by larger predators. A fox will cover long distances each day and night in search of foods that may be available with some thought and cunning nature.

A cross fox searches for food.
Photo credit: J.Paleczny

Animals have adapted and evolved to thrive in this northern environment with such dramatic seasonal variations and climatic extremes. Equipped with a suite of skills, instincts, habits and abilities that these creatures have developed over the centuries, they will continue to endure Nature`s winter survival extremes.

Doug Caldwell

Doug Caldwell

Wildlife Interpreter

Doug is one of the Interpretive Wildlife Guides here at the Preserve. An avid angler and hunter he has a broad knowledge of Yukon’s wilderness and the creatures that live here. With a focus on the young visitors to the Preserve, Doug takes the extra time to help our guests to better appreciate the many wonders of the animal kingdom here in the Yukon.

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Meet The North: The Gift that Keeps Giving!

Meet The North: The Gift that Keeps Giving!

Meet The North: The Gift that Keeps Giving!

Each of the last 2 years we have had the immense pleasure of connecting with northerners passionate about promoting local, connecting people and place and supporting the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and Yukon’s wildlife.  The team is back again this year with new, special and very limited edition Yukon-inspired and Yukon-made wool wear.  

Only 3 hats available!

Birds Eye View small batch dye by Crux Fibres with pattern, Autumn Weaves beanie by Lindsay Faciane; hand knitted especially for the Yukon Wildlife Preserve by Liz Sutton adorned with indigenous Yukon-run trapline, sustainably trapped lynx fur pom.

SOLD!

The one-of-a-kind Borealis Hat and Mitt pattern by Liz Sutton can be found on Ravelry if you wish to do your own pattern yourself but the particular Aurora and Blue Lagoon hand-dye from Crux Fibre is one of a kind, especially for the Preserve adorned with sustainably and ethically Yukon trapped coyote fur pom!

The partnerships of these unique businesses and people have continued to grow and we’re really excited to release a limited edition toque and special toque and mitt combo for this holiday season – gift giving that keeps giving! These beautiful wool items were made exclusively in the north, inspired by the north and are entwined with passions and care throughout the entire process. The Yukon is home to incredible people who love to celebrate and honour the uniqueness of this land. These knitting wonders directly support the diverse community that makes this place and its people so unique!

These limited edition hats go on sale at the Preserve only on Saturday November 13.

Hand-knitted in Whitehorse

For the 3rd year in a row we are working with the ever-expanding knitting talent, Liz Sutton of Treeline Knits located right here in Whitehorse. Liz has been the cornerstone of this annual project. Year after year, despite a full time job, dog-momming, life duties and personal outdoor passion and pursuits, Liz is eager to weave through it all and dedicate time and energy into lovingly producing one-of-a-kind hand knitted and fashioned wool products, especially for the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

Northern Inspiration in Hand Dyed 100% Merino Wool

Crux Fibres is a truly northern inspired product of born and raised Yukoner, Brittany Vogt. Her knitting hobby and desire to create her own spectrum of colours inspired by Yukon places close to her heart quickly turned into a business for Brittany. 

“The art of dyeing yarn has become a great avenue to continue my creative expression” and this particular small-batch dye was influenced by a place that holds an extra special connection for Brittany. The “Birds Eye View” she called this small-batch dye, in which Liz used to make the 3 toques, was inspired by place and time. Atop Caribou Mountain overlooking Bennett Lake, on the traditional territory of the Carcross Tagish First Nation,  Brittany realized she was going crazy for John, her now husband. Indeed, intertwined in love, years later a few pictures would further inspire the beauty and colour of this yarn. 

Brittany’s inspiration supported through Bennett Lake art from
Left: Edna Bardell Right: Ben Nelms

Every small-batch dye of 100% merino wool yarn originates from South America. Brittany worked hard to source yarn ethically and extend her values of supporting small and mindful businesses like her own.  The one-of-a-kind Aurora Borealis Hat and Mitts used a special blue lagoon dye Brittany did. The very nature of hand-dying in small batches creates variations from skein to skein (even those dyed in the same dye bath) adding even greater uniquesness to each finished product. 

Trapping – In Love & Tradition 

The finishing touches of such a divine piece of art involves a trapline, and a commitment to love, learning, and educating. It may be just a fur pom that adorns these hats but for Vanessa of Yukon Wild Furs it’s an opportunity; it’s the decision to embark on a role as an educator; fulfilling a responsibility while generating a (somewhat unexpected) life from the bounty of the land. Vanessa, along with owning and operating a small store where she sells her art, tirelessly works towards educating and connecting people to a lifestyle rooted in tradition whenever she has the opportunity. This opportunity and responsibility is shared along-side her now husband, George Bahm who is Teslin Tlingit and harvests from the land on his trappline in southern Yukon.

Photo Credit: Alistair Maitland

I have merely glimpsed a fraction of the beauty and teachings that await on the trapline. But I know that this traditional practice, with its skill, stories and lessons, will be lost if the wild fur industry continues as it is. My hope is to protect the importance of what is out on the trail, in the quiet of a fresh snowfall, so that future generations of fur harvesters can reconnect with their ancestors and the teachings that have endured for thousands of years. Trapping is so much more than just harvesting fur.

Photo Credit: Erik Pinkerton

When the opportunity came to adorn these hats (for a second year in a row) with sustainable, locally and indegenous trapped wild fur, Vanessa did not hesitate to support. She’s only a single human in this world but one with a strong, deeply rooted goal of using this polarizing issue as a springboard into meaningful conversations wherever they can occur from her store to our Little Gift Shop where these hats will be sold.

To learn more about Vanessa, George and their shared goals check out Truth About Fur

A Community That’s Wild at Heart

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is a non-profit charitable organization. In the 1970’s Danny Nowlan started accepting and caring for injured and orphaned wildlife at the Yukon Game Farm. Nearly 50 years later the Preserve continues to care for Yukon’s most vulnerable animals. Today we are a living centre of Yukon’s species that connects tens of thousands of people, from our backyard to across the world, to the natural world, each year.

Find out more about what the  donation with the purchase of the hat means for the Preserve at donate.yukonwildlife.ca 

 These toques represent so much more than just a (stunning) fashion accessory to keep your head warm! It embodies your choice to value the connections with the people and places of this territory; to support local; to share a love of something on a deeper level; to support Yukon’s wildlife. By purchasing this hat, you are supporting the people, their businesses and the land and animals of the north – Liz Sutton of Treeline Knits, Yukon Wild Fur and local trappers, Brittany Vogt of Crux Fibres, Yukon Wildlife Preserve – Wildlife Rehabilitation and a community that is wild at heart!

Lindsay Caskenette

Lindsay Caskenette

Manager of Visitor Services

Lindsay joined the Wildlife Preserve team March 2014. Originally from Ontario, she came to the Yukon in search of new adventures and new career challenges. Lindsay holds a degree in Environmental Studies with honours from Wilfrid Laurier University and brings with her a strong passion to share what nature, animals and the environment can teach us.

867-456-7400
lindsay@yukonwildlife.ca

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