Annual Report for 2022-23

by Jake Paleczny | Jul 6, 2023 | Governance | 0 comments

About the Preserve in 2022-23

Our Mission
The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is a non-profit, charitable organization. The Perserve is operated under the full name of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve Operating Society (YWPOS).


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.

Core Values

  • 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 2022-23 included:

Alexandra Tait, President
Shawna Warshawski, 1st VP
Melissa Croskery, 2nd VP
Bonnie Love, Treasurer
Kirk Cameron
Justine Benjamin
Eamonn Pinto
Steve Smyth
Michael Bennett

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 Tait, President
    • Shawna Warshawski, 1st VP
    • Melissa Croskery, 2nd VP
    • Bonnie Love, Treasurer
    • 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!

Learn more about the YWPOS Board, Board Committees, or connect with the board.

Our Staff

The YWPOS Management Team in 2022-23 included:

Jake Paleczny, Executive Director/CEO
Randy Hallock, Manager of Outdoor Operations
Dr. Maria Hallock, Veterinarian
Lindsay Caskenette, Manager of Visitor Services
Madison Rushton, Manager of Education and Programming (departed mid-season)
Neil Tracey, Manager of Education and Programming (joined mid-season)

Learn more about everybody on the YWP staff team and get in touch.

President’s Report

In preparing for this year’s annual report, I found myself looking back on the past years reports and I want to say because it cannot be said enough – I am so very thankful for our staff and volunteer board and committee members, for their continued innovation, passion, and dedication. We have emerged from the last couple years of banner challenges with the pandemic, incredible reduction in tourism, operational changes, and just the usual surprises and hard work that comes from caring for our incredible animals and our well-loved facilities.

Throughout this year, our animals we love and care for continued to receive exceptional care. Many of these animals have lived their entire lives at the Preserve, and enjoy a carefree and pampered existence. Every spring, we welcome new life to the Preserve. But as with the circle of life, we also said goodbye to some of our animals too, and they are forever in our hearts.

We remain passionate about our mission to connect our visitors with the natural world and the majesty of the animals found in the Yukon. We continue to receive orphaned and injured wildlife and provide them the necessary care with the hopes, always, to release them back into their natural habitats. Without donations and the support of our membership and visitors, we cannot offer this service. We so appreciate the donations and sponsorships that we receive – please keep us in mind if you are looking for worthy organizations for corporate or personal contributions. Even the smallest animal requires extraordinary effort by our in-house Veterinarian and the rest of the Animal Care staff; and medical supplies and medications to try and ensure the successful healing and release.

And so, whither the future? We continue to receive some core funding from Yukon government, but this only supports us so far. Our operations, interpretive services, educational programming, spring and summer camps, rely heavily on our self-generated revenue which we only achieve because of our dedicated membership, Yukoners, and visitors from near and far. A story not uncommon these days, we are feeling the pressures of cost of living increases, the cost of raw materials and delivery surcharges, to name a few. We want to continue providing exceptional experiences for our visitors and ensure we retain our exceptional staff. To do this, our Staff have developed incredible opportunities for sponsorships that provide our funding partners with opportunities to have exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences, participate in the release of our rehabilitated animals, and have your logos on our marketing, social media, and on-site facilities!

Thank you again to our amazing employees and volunteers for your passion, enthusiasm, and commitment. Thank you too, to our donors for your support when we have needed it most. Finally, a genuine thank you to our community – for your words of support and encouragement, which have meant so much to us.

Alexandra de Jong Westman
President, YWPOS Board of Directors

Photo of moose in fall colours.

Treasurer’s Report

Yukon Wildlife Preserve financial statements once again show our organization to be in good shape.  In reviewing the Statement of Operations you will note that our revenue from operations has increased showing a positive recovery from the COVID slower years and we are no longer dependant on the pandemic wage support from CANADA for our operations. Our recovery is bringing us closer to pre-Covid numbers and we hope to hit that bench mark in the near future.  Our core funding from The Yukon government Department of Environment increased two percent (from 2021-22 to 2022-23) and is critical to maintaining our organization and is targeted on the well being of the animal collection.  We have been notified that increases will not be possible in the future.  As a result we are exploring others options to increase our visitor and other revenues. Our expenditures track well with our return to full operations.

The Balance Sheet shows a good position with our cash reserves at a safe level to deal with a potential emergency.  Of note this fiscal year, the board approved the purchase of a number of ‘new to YWP’ vehicles as most of the vehicles in use were well beyond their useful life. This is a great improvement for operations!

Our annual revuew was performed, again, by Crowe MacKay and our financial information and operational information met the standards of their review and no concerns were identified.  I would like to thank our Executive Director and the Insyte Business Solutions team for the excellent care and diligence they have given to the financial operations of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.  Our budget for the coming year plans for another successful year!

Thank you

Bonnie Love
Treasurer, YWPOS Board of Directors

Photo of moose in fall colours.

Executive Director’s Report

I have to start by introducing and thanking my team. They are an incredibly talented, passionate group of people. They spend their days (and sometimes nights) making the Preserve a success. If you don’t know them, please take a moment to get to know them! The scope and scale of the Preserve’s achievements last year is a testament to their dedication, drive and optimism. Thank you!
While 2021-22 felt like an “in-between” year, 2022-23 was marked by a return to pre-pandemic tourism levels. It was busy!! All predictions pointed to a full recovery by 2024-25, but we were pretty much there last year. Although we did notice some important differences. We’re seeing much more shoulder season traffic in the fall, winter and spring. We’re also seeing a much greater interest in our Exclusive Experiences and photo tours. These are positive trends for the Preserve! We also leaned into the previous winter’s success and expanded the kicksled rental program. That included doubling the fleet from 16 to 32 kicksleds, building some covered storage, and adding new wayfinding maps to all the kicksleds.
We also got another amazing boost from the gift shop. Lindsay, our Manager of Visitor Services, started working on new local products during the pandemic. These included a number of products featuring local artists. The pay off came this as tourism returned in force to the Preserve. You’ll read more about that success in Lindsay’s report below.
All this strengthened the Preserve’s financial position. This enabled us to make a couple of important investments. First was in upgrades to our fleet. We added a 15 passenger van and replaced almost all of our aging trucks. This was a long overdue upgrade. Staff went from jumping vehicles regularly to just getting the job done!
We also made some important investments behind the scenes. A more positive tourism outlook enabled us to make another wage increase as we headed into the new fiscal year. We also had some unexpected support from the Marilyn Neaves Foundation, enabling us to replace our x-ray equipment. The x-ray equipment broke unexpectedly and would otherwise have been difficult to replace as quickly.
We also spent significant time supporting a TPA review process by YG’s Department of Environment. This was a thorough review of the YG/YWP relationship and had a number of recommendations on how YG and YWP can work together more effectively. A tactical plan to implement these recommendations is in progress.
There are aspects of shape of the next few years that are still unclear. But what is clear is that we have a dedicated team of staff and directors who are dedicated to seeing the Preserve reach its full potential!
Last, but certainly not least, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of our supporters. Our members and donors have been consistent and generous in their support – whether its getting out to spend time, renting kicksleds or donating. Thank you! Your trust and belief in the work we’re doing energizes and propels us forward.
Jake Paleczny
Executive Director / CEO
YWP's updated fleet.

Operations Report

Some of the highlights from the Outdoor Operations Department include:

Spring (April – June)

  • With a snowy, late spring “plowing snow” took up a huge amount of time for much of the winter and into late April.
  • OO and AC staff attended First Aid training in April
  • Attempted removal of old fence posts in Moose Habitat. Unfortunately they were frozen in too tight to be pulled. Wet ground the rest of the year has made it challenging to access them during the summer.
  • Misc clean up
  • Built new feeders for muskox bulls
  • Fixed small flight pen
  • Fixed large flight pen (significant snow damage collapsed a portion of the flight pen)
  • Fixed fence on second dam
  • Ran electric wire down dam to moose feeding station
  • Hooked up and repaired water lines
  • Took down old hay shed
  • Spring cleanup of pastures
  • Assisting AC with moving animals
  • Fence repairs on top of 2nd cliff
  • Inspection and repair of perimeter fence
  • Clean up around Animal Care Building
  • Mowing foxtail
  • Taking down more of the old facility
  • Cutting browse along roadways

Summer (July – September)

  • Mowed foxtail
  • Cut down leaning trees along roads
  • Cut down leaning and dead trees in pastures and hauled out / chipped
  • Cleaned up brush and tinned out small forest by learning centre with Y2C2 and Klondike Experience Volunteers
  • Cut browse (helping AC)
  • Road maintenance (filling potholes)
  • New moose habitat:
    • Cut fence line for new moose pasture
    • Painted pipe for moose fence
    • Built moose alleyway
    • Pushed in pipe for moose pasture
    • welded braces
    • Fencing in progress
  • Cleaned up garbage
  • Changed over incinerator to new burn chamber
  • Produce pickup from G&P (we are now receiving expiring produce from G&P, which is used for supplementing feed for a number of species)

Fall (October – December)

  • Worked on 2nd Moose Habitat project
  • Watering (between freeze up and snow)
  • General clean up
  • Outhouse repair and new tank
  • Started getting produce from G&P – typically once/week we receive a load of expired produce from G&P. Staff sort through and feed appropriate foods and compost remainder.
  • Plowing snow
  • Contracted large excavator to push in posts on Moose Habitat (resulting in a much straighter, more secure fence line along the side of the moose habitat)
  • Lots of repairs on Toolcat
  • Repairing heaters on 22 Passenger Bus
  • Repair quail cages
  • Cleaned and repaired water tubs
  • Repair emergency lights in garage and AC building
  • Cleaning vehicles and building

Winter (January – March)

  • Plowing snow occupied a large amount of the time
  • Removed old pipe / fencing from main moose habitat (cutting and capping pipes)
  • Picking up and prepping produce from G&P foods
  • Assisting with animal movements
  • Building antler selfie stations
  • Check perimeter fence.
Map showing location of newly constructed moose elk handling chute.

Above: map showing the new winter moose habitat, allowing males and females to be separated. Below: the new incinerator burn chamber getting installed.

Photo of brush piles on fire and hootalinqua firetruck and crew

Above: a welcome kiosk (for the front of house) and a new outhouse (for carnivore corner) were purchased at the end of the 2022-23 for installation in summer 2023. Below: Manager of Outdoor Operations, Randy Hallock, supports a commerical film/photo shoot.

Loading hay into the barn.

Animal Care Report

Main Collection

As of March 31st 2023.



In main collection

  • North American elk 5.8
  • Moose 3.2
  • Woodland caribou 3.6
  • Mule deer 5.25
  • Thinhorn sheep 13.20
  • Mountain goat 4.17
  • Muskox 4.8
  • Bison 4.13
  • Canadian lynx 1.2
  • Arctic fox 0.1
  • Red fox 2.0

Key: male. female. unknown


Other Updates:

  • Bison, lynx and Caribou bred in 2022/2023 per collection plan;
    • Spring 2023: 2 bison calves, no lynx or caribou;
  • Summer/Fall 2023/winter 2024 breeding planned for elk, bison. caribou, muskox, mule
    deer, Thinhorn sheep, lynx as per collection plan;
  • Orf infection (August 2022-February 2023) in Mountain Goats, Thinhorn Sheep and Muskox.
    • Orf disease, also known as contagious pustular dermatitis or ecthyma contagiosum, is a zoonotic infection caused by the parapoxvirus, Orfviridae. Orf plagues sheep and goats, which are their natural host range. The virus causes a proliferative vesicular popular lesion, prominent in the lips, mouth, eye lids, genitalia and extremities.
    • High morbidity/low mortality (most of the animals were affected to a various extend, only 2 older Mountain Goats had to be euthanized due to the severity and debilitating nature of the lesions). All other animals had recovered, no animal-human transmission happened during the course of the outbreak. 


(Born April 1, 2022-March 31, 2023)

  • Bison: 2.2 May 2022
  • Muskox: 1.1 April 2022
  • Caribou 1.1 May, June 2021
  • Mountain Goat 0.1 October 2022



(Deceased April 1, 2022-March 31, 2023)

  • Bison 3.0 (2 calves with congenital defects)
  • Muskox 1.0 (calf with congenital defect)
  • Mountain Goat 0.3 (old age, Orf)
  • Lynx 1.0 (fatal accident)
  • Mule Deer 3.1 (fatal injury, old age)


Wildlife Rehabilitation Report

This chart shows all arrivals between April 1, 2022 – March 31, 2023. Current status incdlues all known outcomes up to July 6, 2023.

SpeciesReleasedDeceasedStill in care
Carolina Chickadee1
Mallard Duck21
Cedar Waxwing3
Sparrow juv1
Northern Pygmy Owl1
White-winged crossbill1
Northern Harrier1
Swainson’s Thrush1
Three-toed Woodpecker1
Tree swallow1
Northern Hawk Owl2
Red Squirrel21
Arctic Ground Squirrel1
Red fox1


This chart shows all arrivals between April 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022. Current status incdlues all known outcomes up to June 13, 2021.

SpeciesReleasedDeceasedStill in care
Pine Grosbeak22
Mallard Duck12
Bohemian Waxwing2
American Robin2
Sparrow juv1
American Kestrel1
Red Crossbill1
Northern flicker1
Pine Siskin21
Short Eared Owl1
Northern Harrier1
American Pipit1
Boreal Owl2
Tree Swallow12
Golden Eagle11
Northern Hawk Owl2
Red Squirrel12 2
Snowshoe hare1

* 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.

SpeciesReleasedDeceasedStill in care
Pine Grosbeak2
Mallard Duck91
Bohemian Waxwing11
American Robin32
Sparrow juv22
Sharp Shin Hawk1
Northern flicker1
Spruce grouse4
Bald Eagle3*1
Lesser Scaup1
Boreal owl1
Yellow Billed Sapsucker1
Tree swallow14
Golden Eagle1
Red Squirrel11

* 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

SpeciesReleasedDeceasedStill in care

/ YWP residents

American robin321
Tree Swallow2
Pine Grosbeak1
American Kestrel1
Northern Goshawk1
Bald Eagle1
Red Squirrels94
Hawk Owl1
Snowshoe Hare1
Red Fox1



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

Visitor Services Report

2022- 2023 was a year of bounce back! We experienced great post-covid growth and saw numbers that align more closely with pre-covid years. These numbers exceded what Destination Canada were predicting and align more closely with predictions for 2024-2025.


2022-23 fiscal visitation was on par with the Preserve’s visitation from 2019-2020. As the Territory’s population grows, the Preserve continues to capture a small segment through annual memberships and member visits. Its worth noting that international travel opened up and Yukoner’s were choosing to travel farther. However, an increasing number of Yukoners still chose to visit the Preserve and purchase memberships.

Visitation data up to 2022-23
Red Fox in winter. Photo by Lindsay Caskanette.
Monthly visitation through 2022-2023 was quite variable and included several months (including the summer) where visitation numbers that were below expectations. January visitation was an interesting anomaly. We experienced extremely high visitation in January compared to any other year. It was unusual to see more travel post-Christmas than during Christmas. We also saw higher visitation in April and May which is atypical. This is valuable though, as it spreads out travellers from peak season to shoulder seasons.
Visitation by month from 2004 to present.


This year in retail was remarkable and set a new benchmark. In 2022-23 we had comparable visitation to 2019-2020, but retail sales were more than $28k more:

  • Overall annual $/capita performance is $2.46;
  • In our previous strongest year (2019-2020) our $/capita was $1.56;
  • While we saw 1% less visitors in 2022-23 compared to 2019-20 our $/capita increased 36%.
Giftshop sales and visitation over the last 4 fiscal years.

Niki Parry Bula reprint and a new print of our old moose bull on a reversible double layer tube.

New books in the Preserve's Little Gift Shop

New Books by Locals

Virginia Wilson Trucker Hats

Skater Classic Logo Hats

Dad Hats

We saw the highest sales in all but one month of the year (December) since tracking in 2011.
Gift shop sales by month over the years.

Equipment Rentals – Kicksleds

We doubled the fleet for 2022-2023 with a total of 36 units. We added signage, improved the rental process, and added a lean-to storage that worked really well for kicksled rentals this year.

  • We Started renting December 4th 2022 and ended April 7th 2024 due to deteriorating weather;
  • Rentals were 2.5 hours only (we removed full day rentals from the previous year as the need was not there);
  • We had 640 rentals over 118 possible rental days. This amounted to $10,686.21 in kicksled revenue, thereby paying off the second fleet investment, the signage and ¼ of the cost of the lean-to;
  • Non-members rrented 431 kicksleds while members rented 209.
New kicksled signage

Education and Programming Report

Swan Haven School Programming – April 2022

Yukon Wildlife Preserve educators once again delivered half-day school programs at Swan Haven Interpretive Centre on Marsh Lake. 562 students were registered, up from 472 in 2021; 450 students attended, up from 406 in 2021.

Swan Haven programming is delivered under contract from the Yukon Government’s Department of Environment. Programs at Swan Haven are free to schools, with the Department of Environment providing funding for staffing and supplies. Programs for grades 2, 3, and 5 involved behavioural observations, indoor interactive experiments, and outdoor games. Students also get to see swans on M’Clintock Bay and the greater Marsh Lake area at a time when most Yukon waters are still frozen solid.

Students and teachers both provided very positive feedback via end-of-program surveys.


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 2022

844 students in grades K, 1, and 4 booked programs in the spring programming season; 996 students were booked. This is up from 695 students attending and 785 booked in 2021.

Kindergarten and grade 1 programs lasted for half a day and included age-appropriate and curriculum connected activities at the Preserve’s Learning Centre. Part of the curriculum at this grade level is learning the names of local Yukon wildlife, so students also attended a tour to see many of the Preserve’s residents.

Grade 4 students joined a full-day program. They focused on biomes and ecosystems by pond dipping, playing games to see how animals use senses to investigate the world around them, and explored predator-prey relationships by becoming predators and prey themselves!

Nature Camps – June-August 2022

Nature camps this year filled 195 out of a possible 198 slots. Campers between ages 6 and 12 joined Animal Care, Detectives, and Wilderness Skills themed camps. Many campers attended two or three camps, getting to experience all that Yukon Wildlife Preserve has to offer.

Campers assisted animal care staff in providing food for mule deer, built shelters in the forest, and figured out what animals had been in the area by finding tracks and scat.

Summer nature camps

Fall School Programming – Feb/Mar 2023

In Fall 2022, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve signed a 1-year funding agreement with the Department of Education to deliver school program sessions for winter and spring in 2023.

The YWP booked 462 students. Unfortunately, the YWP encountered significant staffing issues resulting in the cancellation of the winter school program session. Staffing issues included turnover of the Manager of Education and Programming as well as inability to attract Wildlife Educators.

Faced with the inability to deliver programs as planned, YWP developed a contingency plan to ensure classes could still visit the YWP (but without the programming). YWP staff surveyed approximately half of the teachers and received strong support for this modification. The plan, with a modified budget, was accepted by the Department of Education. In the end 132 students visited the YWP under this modification.

We look forward to delivering strong winter school programing in the next season.

March Break Nature Camps – Mar 2023

March Nature Camps were also impacted by the staffing turnover in the Education and Programming department. The first week of camp was cancelled due to lack of staff, but fortunately the second week of camp ran successfully after a new Manager of Education and Programming joined the team.

10 campers joined in a week of winter programming including sledding, animal care, dissections, and a deep-snow hike.

March break Nature Camp

The Preserve in 2022-23

Thank you.

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:

  • CAZA Inspection (every 5 years, the Preserve hosts a team of inspectors who evaluate how the Preserve is performing on the hundreds of different standards required for the Preserve to be one of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums);
  • Negotiating new funding agreements and a lease with Department of Environment – and working with other YG departments including Highways and Public Works;
  • Development of a new section of trail by the male muskox;
  • Invasive species removal (foxtail and caragana);
  • Installation of a new outhouse at carnivore corner and upgrades to barrier free pedestals in other outhouses;
  • Installation of a new welcome kiosk at the front of house;
  • Emergency procedure updates, including road gate signing;
  • Upgrades to highway signs;
  • A whole lot of fence maintenance!
Photo of YWP staff working on installing fencing.

Ways to Support

• • •

Leverage your extra resources, services or expertice and make an in-kind contribution to the Preserve’s day-to-day operations.
Make a one-time or monthly tax-receiptable donation to education, wildlife rehabilitation, or general operations.
Turn your businesses cash or in-kind support for the Preserve into PR for your business and perks for your team.

Ways to Stay Connected

• • •

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Jake Paleczny

Jake Paleczny

Executive Director

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.


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