Annual Report for 2021-22
About the Preserve in 2021-22
The Yukon Wildlife Preserve will see informed voices that speak for the natural world.
To connect our visitors to the natural world by being a living centre of Yukon’s species.
- Relentlessly pursue the highest standard of animal care;
- Be accessible to all visitors;
- Model respect and teamwork with coworkers, volunteers, and our community; and,
- Treasure the Yukon’s natural world.
Our Board and Committees
The YWPOS Board in 2021-22 included:
Alexandra de Jong Westman, President
Shawna Warshawski, 1st VP
Chris Evans, 2nd VP
Drew MacNeil, non-voting YG rep (resigned May 2021)
The YWPOS board meets approximately 6 times each year – quarterly meetings on the 3rd Wednesday of July, October, January and April, as well as a couple of special meetings depending on the projects / needs at hand.
The board is responsible for several key committees that provide oversight and support to various aspects of operations. These include:
- Executive Committee – works closely with the Executive Director on a regular basis – meets monthly. Committee members:
- Alexandra de Jong Westman, President
- Shawna Warshawski, 1st VP
- Chris Evans, 2nd VP
- Jake Paleczny, ED
- Animal Care Committee – oversight and support on care and management of the collection – meets monthly to quarterly depending on need. Committee members:
- Dr. Maria Hallock (YWP Veterinarian)
- Mary Vanderkop (Chief Veterinary Officer)
- Randy Hallock (Manager of Outdoor Operations)
- Bill Klassen
- Dave Mossop
- Justine Benjamin
- Alexandra de Jong Westman
- Jake Paleczny
- Education Committee – assists on education and experience based projects – meets as required. Committee members:
- Melissa Croskery (Chair)
- Shawna Warshawski
- Madison Rushton
- Lindsay Caskenette
- Jake Paleczny
- Research Committee – reviews research proposals and makes recommendations to the board – meets as required. Committee members:
- Alexandra de Jong Westmann
- Dave Mossop
- Fiona Schmiegelow
- Jake Paleczny
- Justine Benjamin
- Katelyn Friendship
- Kirk Cameron
- Maria Hallock
Other ad hoc committees and work groups are formed as required to tackle specific projects!
- Finances / Treasurer;
- Fundraising and sponsorship;
- Animal Care Committee Chair.
To find out more and get involved, please contact Alexandra de Jong Westman (President, YWPOS) at email@example.com.
The YWPOS Management Team in 2021-22 included:
Jake Paleczny, Executive Director/CEO
Randy Hallock, Manager of Outdoor Operations
Dr. Maria Hallock, Veterinarian
Lindsay Caskenette, Manager of Visitor Services
Abi Horobin, Manager of Education and Programming (departed mid-season)
Madison Rushton, Manager of Education and Programming (joined mid-season)
Greetings to all our faithful members, volunteers, staff, and supporters:
Each year seems to bring about different challenges, opportunities, and change… and this past year was no exception. Our Staff have had to be proactive, adaptive, and creative, in our services and our operations. We remain in unprecedented times, and the dedication and commitment of the Preserve Board and Staff have remained unwavering, and for that, we are all so grateful!
The Board continues providing strategic oversight for the organization, continues to work with Yukon government in managing their lands, buildings, and animals for the benefit of Yukoners, and now… tourists! We are so excited to see more and more people from outside, coming to enjoy the serenity of the landscape and engage with the animals within the Preserve.
Everything is feeling *almost* back to normal – we have our eye on fulfilling our 2022 – 2024 Strategic Plan which helps us determine short-term goals and objectives, provides objective assessment of our operations and progress, and ensures our vision is aligned with the mandates of Yukon government and the needs of our membership.
We are tremendously appreciative of our local support as well – because so many of us have played tourist in our own territory, we saw another banner year of visitation, the increase in services including the kicksled revolution this winter. Our staff work hard to bring in innovative and creative services, and as we head into summer, we welcome campers again for our weekly summer camps.
On behalf of the Board, thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you at the Preserve!
Alexandra de Jong Westman
President, YWPOS Board of Directors
Executive Director’s Report
Some of the highlights from the Outdoor Operations Department include:
- Plowing snow
- Cleaning pastures (a more thorough spring clean-up of hay and feces is typically needed in most high use areas)
- Hauling water (between departure of snow and thawing of water lines)
- Painting pipe for fence posts
- Predator proofed corner caribou habitat for calving. This included adding small mesh and apron to the interior fencing and using remaining stock of “perimiter fence” (with 3” verticals instead of 6” spaced vertical wires) on the two exterior faces, installing an apron (tying into fence and burying), and installing electric strand on outside.
- Clearing brush for moose fence upgrades.
- Mowing fox tail
- Fencing on moose habitat – putting in new posts, attaching wire, clearing, moving compost pile
- Changed Ram fence and apron by feeding station (to 3” perimeter fence”
- Replaced electric wire to lynx and fox
- Changed gates in alleyway to the back habitat
- Testing stand off barrier designs (per stand-off barrier risk assessment)
- Managing clean up of old cement pad area (working with contractor)
- Completed construction of stand off barriers on Lynx, Arctic Fox and Red Fox. New “climb resistant” design was implemented in response to action items from the Stand Off Barrier Risk Assessment (per CAZA).
- Worked with Rural Roads – extensive work done to lift many of the roads with gravel and to grade. The road into to the back 40 to the Moose Cabin site was repaired.
- Worked with contractor to clean up and grade concrete pad near crossroads.
- Worked with contractor to clean up old burn piles in the back and grade area.
- Burned brush piles in the back 40 (these were burned last year, but not everything burned – was pushed back up into new piles and completed).
- Plowed snow (A LOT)
- Plowing snow – there was A LOT this winter, especially from January to March. This was an all consuming task this last quarter.
- Worked on building reinforced gates and feeders for muskox bulls
- Supporting animal care procedures as required
- General clean up.
Above: the updated fence lines to create a predator proof Caribou calving area. Below: the moose habitat was expanded to move the fence to drier ground and prepare for later phases of the master plan.
Below: the old cement pad (near the cross roads) was removed and shaped. The old burn piles were also cleaned up (waste hauled away) and graded flat. These were significant clean up projects.
- Bison, muskox and Caribou bred in fall 2021 per collection plan
- May 2022: 2 bison calves, 1 muskox calf and 1 caribou calf so far! Still expecting from each species.
- Fall 2022 breeding plans for caribou, muskox, mule deer, and thinhorn sheep per collection plan
(Born April 1, 2021-March 31, 2022)
(Deceased April 1, 2021-March 31, 2022)
Wildlife Rehabilitation Report
This chart shows all arrivals between April 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022. Current status incdlues all known outcomes up to June 13, 2021.
|Species||Released||Deceased||Still in care|
|Short Eared Owl||1|
|Northern Hawk Owl||2|
* This moose was released from the YWP’s rehabilitation program to join the main collection in fall 2021.
This chart shows all arrivals between April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021. Current status incdlues all known outcomes up to June 18, 2021.
|Species||Released||Deceased||Still in care|
|Sharp Shin Hawk||1|
|Yellow Billed Sapsucker||1|
* Two of the three bald eagles were successfully released in May 2021.
** This moose was released from the YWP’s rehabilitation program to join the main collection in fall 2020.
July 3 2018 – July 3, 2019
Still in care
/ YWP residents
Animal Care Committee
The ACC is one of the Preserve’s most active committees – it provides oversight and support on care and management of the Preserve’s collection. The committee meets 4-8 times a year and provides recommendations to the board on a range of topics – including collection plan, animal care policies, aquisition and disposition of animals and more. To find out more or if you have expertise to contribute to this committee, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Visitor Services Report
While 2020-21 provided great challenges it allowed opportunities to focus on new partnerships and product development that fostered great rewards in 2021-22. As travel slowly increased, we added to our local visitor’s experience with new gift shop products and the new kicksled rental program.
2021-22 fiscal visitation was on par with the Preserve’s visitation from 2015-16 and 2016-17. Despite considerable fluctuations in the 2 years, due to covid, and our steady growth in visitation over the last 8 years, our member visits have stayed relatively constant, with only smaller gains year over year. With all that being said, the Preserve did see its highest number of annual member visits in 2021-22. This is likely related to covid travel restrictions along with Kicksled Rental program introduction beginning in February.
Photo by Ray Marnoch
2021-22 offered a lot of surprises following the extremely low visitation of the year before and general covid related struggles. The Preserve set some new monthly visitation records for 3 of the 12 months, including October, February and March.
Visitation Through Events
The Preserve was able to run our seasonal and holiday events including Easter, Halloween and Run Wild. We also offer free access for Mothers Day and Fathers Day. We also supported partnered events with the Yukon Bird Club and Aurora Kickbikes for on-site rentals.
The 2021-2022 year was a benchmark year for the Preserve’s Little Gift shop. Benchmark, not in terms of total revenue earned (2019-20 saw the highest revenue year $50,568) but in terms of per capita sales. The highest annual per cap sales were this past fiscal year at $1.68 (compared to $1.53 in 2019-20). This is likely due to the new exclusive artist collaboration products that not only were a bit higher retail price point but also tapped into the local and membership market that much of our products in the past had not.
Yukon Wildlife Preserve T-shirts and stickers designed by Tedd Tucker.
What continued to help improve gift shop revenue through the winter of 2021-22 (which is typically lower than other months) was the reopening of the Little Gift Shop to the public on December 6th (it was closed to the public from March 2020 to December 2021 due to covid).
Equipment Rental Program Introduction – Kicksleds
In Feb 2022 the Preserve’s introduced its first ever equipment rental program: kicksleds!!
It was an incredibly sought after program by visitors and locals alike! As a matter of fact our members really loved the kicksled program and were twice as likely to rent as non-members.
A fleet of 16 was purchased from larger adult sizes down to small kid sizes for ages 3 and up. Of 54 possible rental days, only 3 days during that period had no rentals. Winter weather conditions were ideal right up until (and even after) we had our last rental day of March 31st bringing the 54 day program to 543 rentals total.
Photo by Ray Marnoch.
Education and Programming Report
Swan Haven School Programming – April 2021
The YWP educators were excited to bounce back into delivering half day programs to Yukon students during April 2021 after last year’s Swan Haven programs were canceled due to the pandemic. Capacity in April 2021 was limited due to covid. A total of 406 students attended (472 students booked) curriculum-linked programs learning more about bird migration, specifically swans, and the importance of early-season open water in M’Clintock Bay on Marsh Lake.
YWP educators delivered three individualized programs for Grades 2, 3 and 5 where the students rotated through 3 different hands-on activities; for one activity, the students were able to use scopes to view the swans from a safe distance whilst observing their habitat and behaviours.
Teacher and student feedback for the Swan Haven programs continued to be overwhelmingly positive this year.
“Another great year! Love that the kids are moving while they learn. Great curriculum connection!”
A new swan costume was made by Tangle McLaren of Entangled Puppetry; however, due to the ongoing realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the costume was not used this 2021 season. (It proved to be an excellent teaching aid for April 2022 programs, as it highlights features of swan biology that will help students further understand their survival adaptations and characteristics.)
Early in 2017, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and Yukon Wildlife Viewing Program signed an agreement for the YWP to develop and deliver experiential, outdoor school programming at the Swan Haven Interpretive Centre. A successful partnership was born!
The YWP has partnered with the Department of Education since the mid-2000’s to provide curriculum-based school programs to Yukon students at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. With financial support from the Department, the Preserve provides these programs to Yukon students at no charge.
Spring School Programming – May/June 2021
In partnership with the Department of Education, the YWP educators provided half day Kindergarten and Grade 1 programs, and a full day Grade 4 program to Yukon students. With this partnership, the Preserve provided these programs to a total of 695 Yukon students (785 students booked) free of charge. Overall bookings in 2021 (785 students) were slightly down from 2019 (959 students) and in 2020 YWP spring programs were cancelled, however, these lower numbers were mainly due to the pandemic. Despite the reduced number of students, those who attended the YWP spring programs had a fun, engaging, and educational experience!
During these programs, students participated in various hands-on exploratory activities where their knowledge of the natural world was tested and strengthened. Through interactive games, such as Camouflage and Predator-Prey, Yukon students attending the Grade 4 Wild Habitats program enacted how animals’ sense and respond in their environments. Student’s learnt how living in the wild is not as easy as it may seem, and that animals have various senses that help them respond in their environments.
“I loved the camouflage game!”
“I liked finding bugs during pond dipping”
-various student feedback
“Yes, referenced biomes/habitats (directly related to curriculum) and very engaging for students. Timed perfectly so they stayed focused. Also, great management by instructors. It was very interesting and engaging and added a lot to our Northern animal theme concepts”
While our programs are mainly outdoors, exploring the YWP grounds, students also have the opportunity to engage in activities located within the YWP’s Learning Center. Kindergarten students explore tactile stations to further understand how the Yukon’s animals are able to adapt to the changing of seasons.
Nature Camps – June-August 2021
The YWP hosted 190 out of a possible 198 summer campers varying in age from 6 to 12 years old. From June through August, the YWP’s Nature Campers were divided into two different camps based on age groups: Discovery Camp and Explorer Camp, each of which had 3 different themes that cycle throughout summer. Our most popular camp was Animal Care, where campers discovered a better appreciation of all the hard work that goes into caring for the Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s collection species. Some activities they performed during Nature Camp included daily feeding chores for YWP’s mule deer, making yummy enrichment treats for the foxes, and getting a behind the scenes look at the special work done in our Animal Care Rehabilitation Facility.
In another week, campers tested their Wilderness Skills within the YWP’s vast landscape! Nature campers explored the Back-40 trails (staff only area) to build survival shelters, test their tracking and animal and plant species identification skills to survive in the “wild”, and so much more.
Fall School Programming – Feb/Mar 2022
In Fall 2021, a one-year funding agreement was signed with the Department of Education to deliver school programs for the winter and spring of 2022.
This year our Fall School Programs shifted from delivery in November/December 2021 to delivery in February/March 2022, while also renaming them as Winter School Programs. This proved to be a positive change and benefitted the program as a whole. This change was made for a number of reasons, including more daylight hours available, avoiding the caribou rutting season, a better time of year for students and teachers to connect with the program, and an opportunity for YWP to work towards a more sustainable staffing model.
Over a course of 20 days, the YWP educators delivered outdoor curriculum–based winter programs to 376 Yukon students (527 students booked) in Grades 2, 3, and 7. There was quite the difference between numbers booked and attended, due to illness or bussing issues.
Students who attended the Grade 7 Program: Yukon Caribou, gained knowledge on how this iconic Yukon species is phenomenally well adapted to the challenges of living in northern landscapes. A highlight for many Grade 7 classes is trekking through the YWP’s caribou enclosure to place their knowledge of the mammal’s adaptations observed closely on the caribou itself and within their spacious, treed habitat.
“This connected so well to both our science and social curriculum.”
March Break Nature Camps – Mar 2022
March Break Nature Camps returned with great success this year; the YWP had not offered March Break Nature Camps since 2017. This year we offered two, 5-day week long camps. With a lot of uncertainty with changing pandemic restrictions, registration opened only two weeks before the start of Nature Camps. However, there was a successful turnout; 9 campers participated for the first week and 7 campers for the second week, out of a possible 10 campers each week.
Since March Break still had LOTS of snow, campers participated in many winter activities, such as building quinzee’s, making ice-lanterns, and sledding down the big hill at the Learning Centre. Thanks to Recreation & Parks Association of the Yukon, for providing free snowshoe rentals for our campers to explore the snowy trails in the YWP’s Back-40. The campers also took on Animal Care responsibilities for our female mule deer for the week, such as filling feed stations buckets with pellets and orange peels, counting the deer, and shoveling poop to keep the feed station areas clean.
The Preserve in 2022-23
We are forever grateful for your continued support. Our commitment to wildlife—and to you—our community—are at the heart of everything we do.
Here’s some of what we’ve been working on or have planned for 2022-23:
- Welcoming A LOT more visitors to the Preserve than we’ve seen in years!!
- Negotiating new funding agreements and a lease with Department of Environment – and working with other YG departments including Highways and Public Works;
- Completing strategic planning (started in 2021-22);
- Tear down and clean up of old haybarn;
- Upgrade to internet lines (including removal of old poles);
- Completing governance policy overhaul;
- Finalizing new bylaws;
- Experimenting with enhancing trails.
The Preserve’s moose pond served as an emergency reservoire for fire crews fighting the fire at Nordic Eclipse Hot Springs in May 2022. It was a devastating setback for our neighbours, but we’re excited to see them open again and working towards reopening in full this fall.
Let’s work together!
Do you see yourself in what we do? Please consider sponsoring specific projects and have your company featured on-site and online! Potential projects include:
- Purchasing new vehicles;
- Trail development;
- Sponsor an Event;
- Fencing and animal security enhancements;
- Site utility improvements.
Ways to Support
• • •
Leverage your extra resources, services or expertice and make an in-kind contribution to the Preserve’s day-to-day operations.
Ways to Stay Connected
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Jake Paleczny is passionate about interpretation and education. He gained his interpretative expertise from a decade of work in Ontario’s provincial parks in addition to a Masters in Museum Studies from the University of Toronto. His interests also extend into the artistic realm, with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario and extensive experience in galleries and museums.