Muskox – I’m a Survivor!

Muskox – I’m a Survivor!

Muskox – I’m a Survivor!

4 minute read – 

The muskox is an adaptable animal. In the face of climate change a generalist diet with a slow metabolism helped this species survive through the last ice age and to today while other megafauna, like woolly mammoths, went extinct.

During Beringia there were two types of muskox present on the extensive grassland biome – Ovibos moschatus, the tundra muskox that roams today, and Bootherium bombifrons, the helmeted muskox. 

The helmeted muskox did not survive the Pleistocene even though it was endemic to North America and had a wider range than its relative, the tundra muskox. If you could imagine this Beringian muskox was taller and more slender than those of the living tundra muskox and its wider range spanned an area from Texas all the way to Alaska. Like many of the horn and antler bearing animals of this era it was all about BIG, oversized, dramatic displays for sexual selection. The helmeted muskox had longer deeper skulls that supported higher and more flaring horns than the tundra muskox. But, size didn’t get selected as most important for survival in this dramatically changing and climatically unstable landscape. It seems not only was smaller horns preferred through evolution but overall body size too – the less compact nature of this muskox might have played a role in its extinction along with many other large herbivorous mammals of its’ time.  

The tundra muskox crossed the Bering land bridge from Eurasia into North America about 100,000 years ago. A more focused range and smaller size as well as thicker coat than that of the Bootherium, the Ovibos remains a resident of the Arctic landscape to this day. What’s pretty incredible is that these muskox have changed, genetically, very little since their days on the Mammoth Steppe. The muskox of today’s Arctic Archipelago are however much less genetically diverse than those that lived during the last Ice Age which suggests they were not completely unscathed during this time of climatic instability. Significant population and geographical range shrinkage restricted the tundra muskox to Greenland and much of the western Northern American Arctic populations are reintroductions from those limited genetics. The two types of muskox of the late Pleistocene did not mix genetically and the reduction of both species, including the extinction of the helmeted muskox, seem to exclude humans as a driving force behind these population dynamics into the Holocene.

Ovibos moschatus, the tundra muskox, was able to ride the waves of climate change over tens of thousands of years. Their adaptability to variability, including climate and thus vegetation quantity and quality, fostered this large Ice Age mammal to survive a formidable narrow niche of the Arctic biome to present day. What might the future hold for the muskox?

Photo credit L. Caskenette

Resources:

Thanks to Dr. Grant Zazula for taking the time share incredible insights into the past, into Beringia with the YWP crew! 

Ancient DNA analyses exclude humans as the driving force behind late Pleistocene musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) population dynamics. Paula F. Camposa, Eske Willersleva, Andrei Sherb, Ludovic Orlandoc, Erik Axelssona, Alexei Tikhonovd, Kim Aaris-Sørensena, Alex D. Greenwoode, Ralf-Dietrich Kahlkef, Pavel Kosintsevg, Tatiana Krakhmalnayah, Tatyana Kuznetsovai, Philippe Lemeyj, Ross MacPheek, Christopher A. Norrisl, Kieran Shepherdm, Marc A. Suchardn, Grant D. Zazulao, Beth Shapirop, and M. Thomas P. Gilberta.

Musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) of the mammoth steppe: tracing palaeodietary and palaeoenvironmental changes over the last 50,000 years using carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis Maanasa Raghavan,, Gonçalo Espregueira Themudo, Colin I. Smith, Grant Zazula, Paula F. Campos

Tundra Muskox

Helemeted Muskox

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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Short Eared Owl Release

Short Eared Owl Release

Short Eared Owl Release

Video

Join Animal Care Assistant, Erica as she shares the successful release story of a longer-term patient, a short-eared owl! 

The owl arrived in Fall 2021 and was released in Spring 2022.

Spring 2022 this owl was returned to the wild after being struck by a vehicle in August 2021 and suffering two broken legs.

It was a happy moment for Erica, as she spent the entire winter caring for the owl. At times it wasn’t certain the owl would be able to return to the wild, to successfully be able to hunt after substantial injury to both its legs. 

Photo credit: J.Paleczny

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.

867-456-7313
jake@yukonwildlife.ca

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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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Northern Wildlife Inspired Artwork

Northern Wildlife Inspired Artwork

Northern Wildlife Inspired Artwork

5 min read 

These mugs have literally been years in the making. Lindsay, Manager of Visitor Services has been working with local ceramic’s artist Astrid Kruse to create something exceptionally unique for the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and its visitors. 

The Visitor Services team are working hard to connect with local artist to bring the connections to nature home with you. We strongly feel that by taking the time to explore these partnerships we can create unique items that guests to the Preserve can take home all while knowing their purchase in the Preserve’s Little Gift Shop not only supports these northern people but all revenue from the retail sales goes back into the operations of the Preserve, supporting the northern animals in our care. 

• • •

Photo of moose in water.

Astrid has a strong connection to Canada’s North, having grown up in Yellowknife, NWT she moved to the Yukon in 2016 and this is where the connection with the Preserve started. Her ceramic practice has taken her many places outside of the North, taking courses, providing workshops, and a year-long residency in Alberta. When family called, Astrid made the move out east but continued to work on this special ceramics project with the Preserve. 

Astrid’s work has always been influenced by her physical environment, the land and animals so it was a natural fit to work together. 

• • •

The mugs Astrid has created for the Wildlife Preserve are one-of-kind and limited! A custom order with our logo required two firings – making the mugs incredibly strong and durable and with a crystalline glasslike form. Each mug is unique from the size and shape to the design itself. Hand made and hand drawn using a special technique called sgraffito which is a delicate scratched design on the clay make each ceramic mug a one-of-a-kind, work of art. 

• • •

Photo of staff giving moose oxygen.

Just as Astrid is inspired by the land, she used the Preserve’s animals and landscape to inspire her artwork. The small details of the mugs include species specific tracks on the handle and a large track on the bottom of the mug. 

• • •

Photo of team providing care for moose in the field.

The handle of each mug has a large thumb placement to ensure you can thoroughly enjoy that full morning cup of java.

• • •

Photo of staff using stethoscope to listen to moose heart rate.

Muskox approved!

These mugs can be purchased exclusively on-site at the Preserve’s Little Gift Shop. They retail for $72.50.

• • •

The mugs (43 of them) were first featured in the Little Gift Shop, August 14 2021. Two weeks after their debut they were half sold out! 

Photo of staff using stethoscope to listen to moose heart rate.
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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Yukon Wildlife Preserve
Box 20191
Whitehorse, Yukon
Y1A 7A2

Proud member of:

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With the support of:

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Busy Times & Hungry Critters in Care

Busy Times & Hungry Critters in Care

Busy Times & Hungry Critters in Care

This story was originally published July 10 2021 in the e-blast newsletter to Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s membership.

Are you a member but don’t receive these email Newsletters?  Contact us at info@yukonwildlife.ca to update your email preferences.

Mew Gull x2

Location found – Downtown.

Admitted on June 15th after the nest was lost. Conservation Officers brought the animals to the Preserve.

This pair are in an outdoor aviary where they are growing fast and eat mice 3 times a day.

• • •

Juvenile Mew Gull with Wing Injury

Also found downtown but admitted more recently on July 7th. This individual has fractures to its right wing and a large hematoma but depsite its injuries is in good body and remains active and alert. 

The animal is on low dose medication for pain and inflammation and the wing is immobilized. It remains under observation before it will move in with the other gulls outside. 

• • •

Boreal Owl

Admitted June 28th, this tiniest of Yukon owls was rescued from an attack by a domestic dog. While the animal came in with mild ataxia (lack of coordination) it’s doing relatively well. It’s missing primary and secondary feathers on both wings but with time and regular mice feedings twice a day the owl should be a good candidate for release when ready.

• • •

Juvenile Northern Flicker

Location found – Takhini Hot Springs Rd area. 

Admitted on June 27th after the young animal fell out of its nest and was at risk of predation. 

Plan for recovery and release with time and lots of mealworm feedings throughout the day and small mice.

• • •

Coyote Pups

2 male coyote pups, about 6 – 8 weeks old, were admitted to the Rehabilitation Centre on July 5th after they were found, suspected to be orphaned, in the Marsh Lake area by members of the public. 

The pups eat 3 times a day and their appetites are growing. Along with a puppy formula, every feeding they consume 4 mice and 2 whole quail each. 

• • •

Each of these animals face challenging times ahead but the Wildlife Preserve Animal Care Team, including Veterinarian, Dr. Maria Hallock, are working 7 days a week, near 20 hours a day to ensure each of these animals are given the best possible chance for recovery and release back into the wild. 

We could use your support to aid in these animal’s recovery – please consider donating. Help us keep Yukon 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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