The Antler and Breeding Cycle Featuring Moose

The Antler and Breeding Cycle Featuring Moose

The Antler and Breeding Cycle Featuring Moose

10 minute read –
Deer species are hoofed, ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The primary deer species in the Yukon include: Moose –  the largest of the species; Caribou, Elk and Mule and White-tailed Deer which have migrated in from Alberta and British Columbia over the past 250 years, Mule deer are very well established with their range documented to extend up to the Arctic circle1https://www.britannica.com/animal/mule-deer.

Many of the Preserve’s visitors are fascinated by the antlers, held by members of the cervid family, and ask many questions about them. This article will explain some of the basics on the annual growth and shedding of the antlers and how they play a critical role in the breeding cycle of these animals. We’ll focus on the largest and arguably one of the most Canadian iconic members of the deer family – the moose and his antlers.

Cervids, or members of the Deer Family, grow antlers.  Only males grow antlers, with the exception of Caribou.  Photo left to right:  Caribou, Elk, Mule Deer, Moose.

Let’s begin when last year’s antlers fall off sometime in the mid-winter following the conclusion of the breeding cycle. The antlers separate from the skull at the point of attachment called the pedicel – the base. The antlers – a growth of bone that is chemically altered to fatigue when the animal’s hormones change following the rut, (a term for the breeding season), which also coincides with shorter days and less sunlight. The cast off of the antlers at the pedicle produces an open wound. Like any open wound there is some amount of bleeding, but it does not appear to be a concern for the animal, the blood clots and is washed off by precipitation and a scab like covering develops. 

Antlers separate from the skull at the pedicel, typically in the winter months.

After a couple weeks the new antlers begin to form, and it is not like a tooth where a replacement pushes the old one out of the way in order to grow, it follows a different process. A new antler bud grows in the pedicle of the animal’s skull. Soon after the antler bud has grown for a few days a soft fuzzy fur-like material forms on the bony bud. This is antler velvet and it is an organ. It contains blood vessels, capillaries and nerves that facilitate the growth of the antler over the coming months.

Velvet covers growing antlers:  it contains blood vessels and nerves to facilitate rapid seasonal growth.

While antlers are growing they are engorged with blood and are quite soft and delicate, so much so that the animal is very cautious to not damage their new antlers in any way. If they do become broken or damaged, the animal is stuck with the injured or malformed antler until the next year when a new set will grow after shedding the damaged one later in the present year. A damaged antler may also develop into a ‘non-typical’ antler where it does not match the one on the other side and is often considered a deformity. As an antler bearing animal ages there is a shift in hormone levels, just like humans, and this can manifest in antler deformities or increased ‘non-typical’ tines. As for humans, aging and hormone changes can mean greying hair or more brittle bones. These malformations can spell misfortune for a bull when it comes to successfully fighting off males and attracting females in the rut – we’ll get to that soon!.

Antlers can be damaged during growth; asymmetrical antlers can be the result.  This can spell bad luck for a male when it comes to successfully fighting off males and attracting females.

Antlers grow very quickly. In fact, they are the fastest growing tissue of any mammal. If the animal has a rich and voluminous diet, moose antler growth can mean packing on a pound each day2http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wildlifenews.view_article&articles_id=175, in the form of bone of course. Coastal moose in Alaska tend to grow the largest antlers due to the quality and diversity of plants that grow in the temperate coastal areas of their rain forests compared to the colder and less vegetated areas inland like the Yukon. These full sets of antlers are often referred to as a rack.

Moose happily browse the aquatic and terrestrial plants they prefer as their new antlers continue their rapid growth. The high levels of sodium found in aquatic plants help moose antlers to grow quickly. Moose adapt to the additional weight and mass of their antlers and can be very exacting in their use for scratching. They know where each antler tip is and how to control their movements with great precision. One of the most remarkable examples of how well moose can control themselves with a large rack is their ability to walk through a forest and not make a sound as they weave their way through the trees with the equivalent of a kitchen table upside down on their head. They can also scratch delicate parts of their anatomy with an antler tip with little fuss.

Velvet hangs from antlers as bull moose browses aquatic plants in marsh at Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

Over the summer season moose continue to gorge on vegetation as their antlers grow within the velvet encasing them, then a number of changes take place as the autumn season approaches. The first frost and dwindling day light is a turning point and triggers a hormonal change in the animal whereby blood flows back into the animal’s body and stops flowing to the antlers causing the velvet to dry after a few days and become itchy. At the same time bulls that are reproductively mature experience other hormonal changes in anticipation of the rut.

The itchy antler velvet gets rubbed off on trees and the bulls do not look their best as ribbons of bloody velvet hang from their antlers. As they dry, the antlers grow hard due to the process of mineralization and result in a two-type cartilage and bone structure3https://www.msudeer.msstate.edu/growth-cycle.php. The inner portion is less dense, spongy bone that has been highly vascularized during growth. The compact outer shell of the antler is of greater density and is very strong and solid and will become the weapons used when fighting other bulls during the rut which is coming up fast.

Once velvet has shed, antlers calcify becoming strong and solid.  Males are now ready to challenge each other for breeding rights to females.

In preparation for the competition among the bulls (males) to breed a cow (female), the bulls announce themselves by urinating on their bellies or sometimes on the ground and then roll in the mud produced. The purpose of this is to get their scent or pheromones to be carried on the breeze letting the cows know where he is; his readiness to mate and making it easier to be found. Of course other bull moose smell this too and a number of them will gather in a common location on a mountain pasture and their mating fights begin as the bulls gather for the annual main event.

Bears, wolves and other predators also smell the moose pheromones and for them it is like the ringing of a dinner bell and they too gather nearby to take advantage of the situation that will soon unfold.

Elk males, like moose, may announce themselves by urinating on their bellies or sometimes on the ground and then roll in the mud produced

Bull moose stop eating when they go into the rut, partly because of the change in their hormones and also because they don’t have time as they are quite busy chasing other bulls away or fighting with them. Some moose can lose a substantial amount of weight when in the rut rendering them weaker and susceptible to greater injuries. Antlers can do some serious damage to other moose where an eye could be lost, a major organ could be pierced by an antler tip or many other injuries, such as muscle punctures could be sustained that would make it much easier for a grizzly to be successful in it’s hunt for food. That’s why predators hang around the rutting areas, it often results in injured moose bulls that are easier to overtake due to their wounds.

When the cow moose go into estrus or heat, they are only then ready to be bred. Some documentary TV programs elude that it is the bulls’ fighting prowess that determines which bull gets to mate, that may be true but it is not the only consideration. The cow still selects which bull she will mate with and it may be the result of the fights, or the appeal of the bull’s pheromones or other factors we are unaware of. But her goal is to produce the best offspring possible and how she makes that determination is her business. The cow will only breed once, while the bull’s goal is to breed as many cows as he can.

Once all the breeding is concluded, the cows and the bulls go their separate ways and will remain isolated from each other until next year’s breeding season occurs again. During this time, the bull’s antlers fall off and the antler cycle starts all over again.

Cow moose may give birth to a single calf or twins and sometimes triplets in the late spring after the ice and snow have turned to water once again. The bulls wander independently between the low river valleys and the mountain tops browsing while their new antlers grow as they evade predators until the rut calls them back to that special place where the breeding games begin anew.

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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Misunderstood Moose

Misunderstood Moose

Misunderstood Moose

5 min read –

You have most likely heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, implying that captivating stories can be hidden behind bland book covers. Similarly, at one time or another many of us have been judged or have judged others based on their outward appearance. Judging others based on their appearance can lead to us underestimating other people’s abilities. Have you ever been underestimated? How did it feel? Due to their funny-looking, long snouts, and gangly, plodding bodies, moose are often underestimated. People tend to view moose as gentle, slow-moving animals, and often don’t associate moose with characteristics such as agile and fierce. Cartoons1Like Bullwinkle the Moose can perpetuate this impression by displaying moose as slow, friendly Canadians. But don’t be deceived by this common misperception. Though moose may look unassuming, they are capable of performing impressive athletic feats in order to find food and avoid predators.

Despite their appearance, moose can easily propel themselves through water in order to find food. While otters, beavers, and other mammals that are known for their swimming ability have lean bodies and webbed feet which allow them to easily glide through the water, moose are heavy-set and have hoofed feet. Despite their size and hooved feet, moose have the advantage of being tall, and their long legs help propel their large bodies through the water. Moose also have hollow hairs, which help them stay buoyant while swimming.2National Park Service With these advantages, moose can swim as fast as 9.5 km per hour. By comparison, most humans only swim at the pace of 3 km per hour. Moose’s ability to swim quickly allows them to travel in search of food while reducing stress on their joints. Water also helps protect moose from predators because it is more difficult for predators to sneak up on them when they are in the water.3Moose Facts 

Moose swimming across Lake Laberge.  Photo credit D. Caldwell.

Photo Credit Johanna Marglowski

Moose also have adaptations that allow them to dive underwater to eat nutrient rich aquatic plants.4National Geographic To prevent water from rushing up their noses, moose have flaps that close in their nostrils. These flaps allow them to hold their breath underwater for up to 50 seconds5Holding breath Ecology and Management of the North American Moose and help them to dive up to 6 m (20 ft) underneath the water surface!6Hinterland Who’s Who After a winter of sparse food resources, aquatic plants provide essential energy to both pregnant cows (female moose), and to bulls (male moose) as they regrow their antlers.

In addition to swimming, moose are also capable of running at high speeds. Being the tallest member of the deer family, a moose can stand around 6 feet tall at the shoulder, which is as tall as some professional basketball players.7National Geographic Even though moose might be too gangly to make great basketball players, their height and long legs allow them to run very fast. A moose calf can outrun the average human after only 5 days of life,8National Geographic while an adult moose can charge at a pace of 56 km per hour, and maintain a pace of 32 km per hour over longer periods. For perspective, during his world record 100 metre dash Usain Bolt ran at an average pace of 44 km per hour. However, moose do not run fast to set world records, their speed provides them protection by enabling them to run away from wolves and other quick-moving predators.

Furthermore, despite the perception of being friendly, moose are actually effective fighters. Though they sometimes use their speed to outrun predators, an experienced and healthy moose is capable of defending itself against wolves by standing its ground and fighting.9Wolves of the Yukon by Bob Hayes Moose will protect their sides by standing next to trees and high shrubs, and then use their powerful legs to stomp or kick attacking wolves, hitting them with their deadly hooves. A powerful strike from a moose’s sharp hooves can result in injury to or even kill a wolf. 

Even young moose are large animals.  The photos show 2 moose bulls; on the left a young 1 year old and on the right a more mature bull of many years of age.

So, are moose really the plodding, polite animals that cartoons depict them as? Have you ever underestimated moose based on their goofy-looking appearance? As we have seen, instead of being slow, and plodding, moose are impressive athletes. Moose are capable of swimming through and under water, which allows them to more easily travel in search of food and access the nutrients they need during pregnancy and to grow antlers. Moose are also capable of running at high speeds and of fighting off other animals, which helps them survive attacks from wolves and other predators. Each of these athletic capabilities are important survival mechanisms that help moose thrive in the wild.

Tasha Mazurkewich

Tasha Mazurkewich

Wildlife Interpreter

Tasha is a self-proclaimed animal enthusiast and adventurer. Originally from British Columbia, she enjoys skiing, hiking, and all things outdoors. She is happiest when she is climbing a mountain with her pup. Having recently moved up north, she has enjoyed learning about Yukon’s wildlife and landscape and is excited to share the new knowledge she has learned with visitors to the wildlife preserve

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Fall In to Autumn

Fall In to Autumn

Fall In to Autumn

5 minute read – 
Autumn is a season of change! It’s the bridge which helps us transition from summer towards winter. What a beautiful bridge it is, with leaves blazing colour in vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow. Fireweed has flowered and the leaves are crimson. Against this backdrop the first snows fall on the mountaintops.

Birds begin their migration back to their southern overwintering grounds, after a summer spent mating, nesting, rearing young, and eating well. Before we see the V’s flying overhead, we often hear them honking and calling to each other.

In the world of ungulates, it is the time of the rut. Antlered animals have finished growing this season’s antlers; their velvet has sloughed off and now they sport their hardened, ready-to-duel finery. We can see and hear as the males clash, challenging each other for the right to breed the females. Elk stags bugle, bull moose softly grunt – calling to interested females in the area and warning off competing males.

Watson, in the foreground, has shed the velvet on his first year’s full antler growth.

Those with horns are also clashing. This looks less like a duel and more like a train crash. Thinhorn Mountain Sheep rams, both Stone and Dall subspecies, run at each other and smash heavy horns together – the echo of this collision ricochets like a rifle shot. Muskox bulls have been rumbling since early August, chasing each other, establishing dominance and finally banging horns as they work to impress the females for breeding rights.
We begin to notice a lack of Arctic Ground Squirrel activity. We no longer hear the constant shrill warnings as nearby predators hunt; where are these industrious rodents? Hibernation comes early – females are already underground for the long winter ahead, and the last of the males aboveground continue to harvest and stockpile their midden, into early October. Predators such as Red Foxes can be seen traveling from one burrow-entrance to another…..looking for a disappearing meal of ground squirrel which used to be in abundance. Soon they’ll be gone completely, hibernating through the winter, under a thick layer of blanketing snow – but not just yet.

Autumn means hibernation is coming.  We’ve noticed a lessening of Arctic Ground Squirrel activity at Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

Humans are adding clothing layers, finding sweaters, mitts and toques in storage. We need these warm additions on the crisp, cold autumn mornings. Afternoon sunshine heats up; we turn our faces to the sun and shed those layers – it’s not winter yet! So too are the animals growing coats of winter fur, wool and hair. Mountain goats have spent all summer shedding last winter’s wool; almost immediately it’s time to grow in this winter’s layer of hair. Arctic Foxes are beginning to add some white to their brown and grey camouflage. They not only change colour with their winter fur, they also add seeming bulk. All those layers of white fluffy fur help them stay warm, maintain body core temperature and thrive in the harsh winter environment of the Far North.
Enjoying this short season is highly recommended – there’s nothing as seasonally relevant or celebratory as jumping into a pile of autumnal leaves. Cranberries are ripening, harvesting continues. Underneath the beauty of the changing season, there is a sense of urgency. Whether we are human or animal, we know winter is coming, and while it’s not here yet, time and opportunity are limited to eat, put enough weight on, or store food to survive the coming months.

Summer is over, the cycle continues. Autumn is the clear signal to prepare for what’s ahead. Fall in to Autumn; experience the sights and sounds with enjoyment, wherever you are.

Julie Kerr

Julie Kerr

Visitor Services Coordinator

Julie is a Registered Veterinary Technologist, living and working in Whitehorse since 2012. She joined the team in May 2018. She is passionate about wildlife, nature and living in a conscious manner with both. Her free time is spent outdoors observing wild animals and ecosystems; her connection to the natural world around her brings great joy – joy she loves to share with anyone interested. Honestly? Work and life blend rather seamlessly.

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Wetlands Habitats – Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Wetlands Habitats – Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Wetlands Habitats – Yukon Wildlife Preserve

13 minute read – 

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve features eleven iconic northern animal species, but if you look closely at each of the three primary habitats on the Preserve you’ll see many more species than “only” eleven. The three primary habitats include: grasslands, wetlands and mountain slopes. Each of these habitat types support animal and plant species that have evolved together over millions of years resulting in communities where they all make a living and contribute different values to the continuing health of their specific habitat. In this three-part series we’ll review each habitat and examine the greater community it represents, continuing with wetlands.

Wetlands are a vital part of Earth’s ecosystems and contribute a number of essential benefits for the land and all the flora and fauna that live on it. At the most basic level, wetlands act as a filtering system to produce clean healthy water for creatures and plants to consume. Wetlands are also the preferred habitat for a wide variety of creatures that range from the smallest of insects to frogs and other amphibians all the way up to include North America’s largest deer species, the Moose, which seasonally depend on the aquatic plants that grow in wetlands for a large part of their diet.

Many other species have evolved to live in wetlands for the numerous benefits they provide in terms of maintaining a reliable food source, protection against predators and wildfires. Wetlands act as a buffer between larger bodies of water and dry land, these places are often called interface zones. These areas also act to prevent flooding of the land as they buffer rising lake and river water levels and reduce dramatic erosion and physical impacts to other habitats.

Again, look beyond our majestic megafauna moose, there’s so much diversity to see in the wetland habitat. Where there’s water, there’s usually waterfowl of many types, including Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese, Common Loons and a wide assortment of ducks who may visit with us for a few days to rest and re-energize during their migrations to and from their summer ranges each year. Some bird pairs may decide to remain and raise a family at the Preserve, so ducklings and goslings paddling behind mom is a common sight over the summer.

You also will see the many barn and tree swallows gathering on the wire fence taking a break before returning to their stunt flying in pursuit of flying insects. Numerous warbler and finch species and our non-migratory chickadees, red polls and sparrows are but a few you’ll have a chance to observe.  Blue birds fly over both the grassland and marsh habitats in search of food, as do small hawks like the Sharp Shinned, Sparrow Hawks, Harriers, and an occasional Screech Owl. Of course there are the varieties of gulls that spend the summer season inland and do a terrific job of keeping edible waste items in check.

The wetlands are abundant with insects and rodents making these areas diversely populated. Bald eagles often hunt ducks on the marsh and when they do, things happen very fast. The eagle will silently glide in over the fence and drop down to about a meter above the water using the air currents to avoid flapping wings and alarming any ducks in view. A successful capture is frequently announced by the rest of the duck flock quacking and taking to the air in a loud blusterous effort. Foxes and lynx also hunt the bird population in the marsh. They are often seen trotting quickly among the long grasses searching for duck nests from which they may steal an egg or hatchling to take back to hungry young kits waiting in their den. While they don’t particularly enjoy it, lynx can be accomplished swimmers and are sometimes found in the water in pursuit of ducks.

Keep a keen eye out in the marsh for muskrats that are infrequently observed swimming or grooming on a frost heave. There are no known beavers in the Preserve marsh, if you do see a large swimming creature it is probably a muskrat.

The marsh, and waters draining from it, are home to tadpoles, which become frogs, who also consume their fair share of a wide variety of insects. Examples include: water boatmen, beetles, mayflies, scuds (a small shrimp-like bug), caddis flies, blood worms, leeches and the most voluminous populace of them all – mosquitos. These insects are the beginning of the food chain which supports the many thousands of creatures in existence today, and some have been around for a very, very long time.

One of the Preserve’s apex insects is perhaps the most vicious predator on the property: The Dragonfly. These remarkable insects reached their evolutionary peak before the dinosaurs roamed the planet, and since that time they have changed very little because they have attained top status in their portion of the insect world and dominate. However, some believe the dragonfly’s life cycle is unbalanced and are being punished for something.

You see, dragonflies start their lives hatching from eggs underwater to begin their larval stage, when they are known as nymphs or naiads, During this part of their lives in the mud under the water they are voracious hunters and will attack other insects many times larger than themselves, they even hunt tadpoles and small fish. They eat all they can catch and grow larger and stronger. Here’s the part thought to be unfair.

Photo of dragonfly taken during the 2020 Yukon Biodiversity Bioblitz, held at Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Dragonflies live underwater as these top predators for up to three years for some species. Then, one warm sunny day they climb up a stalk of grass out of the water and begin a remarkable transformation from a ferocious water bug, into an adult to become one of the most accomplished fliers on this earth, The sad part perceived as punishment is that the adult dragonfly only lives for about three days before it mates and perishes according to Nature’s plan. Three years underwater living and fighting in the mud and only three days as an accomplished and dazzling flier, then, it’s life cycle completes, it perishes, it’s all done – it does seem unfair.

The winter season brings profound change to the marsh. Many of the summer residents have either migrated south or have found warm shelter for the winter months. Of course the water freezes creating a barrier between those that live under the surface and those that live above. Insects continue to grow, eat and thrive under the water, now much darker due to ice and snow blanketing the surface, blocking most of the sunlight. In winter moose, both in the wild and in the wetlands habitat at the Preserve, can no longer access the aquatic vegetation they enjoy so much and turn to other vegetation to support them. Alas, winter also impacts the vegetation that grows above the water and since moose are also very efficient browsers, they adapt in winter by browsing more of the plant than the tender bits at the ends of the branches they consume in the summer. Look at the bushes near the fence line in the moose habitat to see how well cropped they become over the winter season.

No water due to freezing temperatures means no waterfowl as they all migrated south before the cold weather arrived. This is also true of the many songbirds and migratory raptors who raised families throughout spring and summer. Mice and some other rodents adapt to the seasonal change similar to the rodents in the grasslands – they create tunnels to travel in, stockpile food in middens and raise their families. Just because it is winter does not mean they stop breeding and producing offspring.

The predator species that depend on the mice and voles in the marsh change their hunting strategies as well when the land is frozen with a layer of snow above. Foxes are often seen leaping into the air to pounce on their lunch the same as they do in the grass pastures. The wild foxes on the Preserve move from habitat to habitat many times a day as they patrol in search of food, which is much harder to find and capture during the winter season. Winter is obviously a greater challenge as ground squirrels are hibernating, small birds have moved away and snow cover impedes easy mouse hunting.

Moose will avoid the frozen ice of the marsh during freeze up and the spring melt so that they do not break through and become stuck in the mud just a short distance below this thinner ice, which can become quite sharp and injure their legs as they struggle to climb out. Therefore, they stay closer to the fence, and terra firma, for easy and safe walking.

The return of the spring sun, the resulting longer, warmer days and the melting of the ice and snow announce a new season for all the creatures that make a living in the wetlands. The changes occur quickly as creatures work hard to make the most of the warmer weather, as they have a lot to do in a short period of time. Some years there are only about 140 ice-free days between spring thaw and winter freeze up. Thankfully the days are longer allowing for more to be done beneath the Midnight Sun.

If they don’t already have one or if they are just reaching reproductive maturity, many animals will need to find a mate; also they must find or build a place to raise a family then nurture and care for their offspring until they are independent and know how to sustain themselves.

Some creatures must learn how to fly after they have grown flight feathers. All will need to learn how to acquire food, which means some will have to learn to hunt while others will need to learn to forage where the foods they require grow. All will need to learn what predators and similar dangers are and how best to avoid them.

It sometimes looks like an idyllic life to we humans, but in reality each day is a life and death challenge for wild creatures as they strive to reach maturity and have offspring of their own and the circle of life is completed.

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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What’s in the Feed Station: Moose?

What’s in the Feed Station: Moose?

What’s in the Feed Station: Moose?

3:45 min Video –

Hello and welcome to the moose feeding station!
The feeding stations exist to make my job easier. Inside they have a big bag of pellets, a bale of hay, a bucket and scoop, a rake, a shovel, a pitchfork, a broom and a feeding chart.

The moose get 25 lbs of pellets a day as a supplement of vitamins and trace minerals in a form they like.  25 lbs may not sound like a lot for 4 moose, but there are lots of natural foraging opportunities in their habitat. In the wild, moose eat leaves, bark and twigs from trees and shrubs as well as aquatic plants. Our moose also have a bale of hay placed in the trees in the back corner of the 48.5 acre habitat and we give them browse, which are tree branches with lots of leaves. We also get produce from local grocery stores or other community members (things like lettuce and veggies) to feed the moose.

The tools in the feeding station are used to clean the area and also for protection. We never enter the moose habitat when they are nearby. It’s just too easy for something to go wrong, without the moose even meaning to hurt us. So when we feed them we take a tool with us. If the moose decide to come up too close, we can wave the rake and they perceive us as being larger than we are and hopefully they back off. If they are very hungry, and come towards us too close and too fast, we might be forced back into the feeding station. In that case, we can use the scoop to pour the pellets through the slat in the wall into the trough outside.
Each feeding station has a clipboard with a feeding chart. The feeding chart is a place for animal care staff to record information. Every day, we record the number of animals we saw, how much and what kind of food they got, and any comments or observations about the animals. If we ever go a couple days without seeing all the animals in a habitat, we let the veterinarian, Dr. Maria Hallock, know, and she will walk around the perimeter of the habitat to locate the animal or animals and make sure they’re ok.
As an example, there was one time last fall when I was feeding Watson his bottle of formula, with my animal care coworker and we noticed he had a patch of green and red on one of his “knees” and we were concerned he may have hurt himself. We sent a picture to the veterinarian, and tried to think of anything that could have caused the discolouration. We then remembered that we had fed him some produce that had beets, lettuce, and celery and he must have knelt in it, causing the staining on his knee. We all got a little chuckle out of it, and were relieved it was nothing serious.

Read Watson’s original story  and then watch the video of Watson taking the first steps to his larger habitat, after his initial rehabilitation.

Animal Care at Yukon Wildlife Preserve involves feeding, cleaning and diligent observations.  Thanks for joining me on this tour of the moose feeding station.

Banner photo credit Neil Zeller:  Watson gets curious and says hello through the slats in the Animal Feeding station.

Watch Bree explain how Yukon Wildlife Preserve feeds Wood Bison!

Learn as Dr. Maria Hallock provide hoof trims to Rocky Mountain Goats!

Bree Parker

Bree Parker

Animal Care Assistant

All animal lover to her very core! Bree has had a menagerie of pets over the years, including mice, crayfish and a hedgehog. After completing her Environmental Technician diploma at Seneca College, she realized her true calling was with animals, sending her back to Ontario this coming fall for University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus’s Veterinary Technology program. Bree is always eager to learn new facts about the animals at the Preserve that she can share with visitors.

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