Monday, September 6, 2021

Yukon Wildlife Preserve - Yukon, Canada

While on a Princess cruise from Whittier, Alaska to Vancover, Canada, we had a stop in Skagway, Alaska on Saturday, July 30, 2016. Shortly after the ship docked in Skagway we picked up a car from Avis at 8:00 a.m. and drove 126 miles to Yukon Wildlife Preserve, 17 miles northwest of White Horse, Yukon (formerly Yukon Territory). Traffic was light and I drove fast, making it in about 2.5 hours. We were able to view the Wildlife Preserve, have a nice lunch in White Horse, and get back to the ship in time for departure. Part of the attraction of visiting the Preserve was to visit Yukon itself. Yukon is huge, over 186,000 square miles, but has a population of less than 36,000 people (and 25,000 of those live in White Horse, the capitol). This trip gave us the opportunity to drive through some of that beautiful, isolated, country.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is set on 350 acres and houses 12 local animals in beautiful, natural exhibits. They offer a bus tour or you can walk the 3.1 mile figure-eight route. I particularly love zoos that feature local wildlife and that is all this Preserve offers. The caribou and moose enclosures are particularly good, with the mountain goat enclosure also offering some great cliffs for the mountain goats to traverse.

The Rocky Mountain elk exhibit is 79.7 acres, but we saw the elk congregated in a small area near the fence. It was probably the least impressive of the exhibits as we saw them. Elk are not indigenous to Yukon. They were introduced into Yukon, northwest of White Horse, in the early 1950s. 
The wood bison is a northern and larger subspecies of the American bison. There are about 7,000 wild wood bison in herds in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba. The smaller plains bison is what we have in the U.S. The wood bison enclosure is 38.9 acres. 

The mule deer deer exhibit is 33.55 acres. Sitka black-tailed deer (a subspecies of mule deer) are found in a small portion of Yukon, the portion which includes the Preserve, and the Rocky Mountain mule deer (a subspecies of mule deer) are found in a larger portion of Yukon. I believe only the Rocky Mountain mule deer are found in the Preserve. 

The moose exhibit is one of the most impressive of the reserve. It covers 24.5 acres and includes its own small lake and marsh. 
The thinhorn sheep enclosure is 32.05 acres. Thinhorn sheep is a term I'd not heard until our visit to Alaska. Thinhorn sheep subspecies are dall sheep, the white subspecies, and stone sheep, the darker subspecies. The thinhorn sheep were all congregated near the fence so that we got good looks of them. They are only found in the wild in Alaska and Canada (in British Columbia, Yukon Territory and a small portion of the Northwest Territories). 
Dall sheep

Stone sheep

I was excited to see the muskox, an animal I'd not seen before this trip. They are in a 23.4 acre enclosure and we got some decent views of them. The muskox are only found in a very few areas of the world and the muskox in the Preserve are the only muskox in Yukon. There are several introduced herds of muskox in Alaska. 

There is a small snowshoe hare exhibit, but I don't have any photos of it. 

The mountain goat exhibit is about the same size as the moose exhibit, 24.4 acres, but is split into two enclosures and has its own cliff. When we visited the mountain goats were relatively near the fence and not up on the sides of the cliff. Mountain goats are found in the wild in southern Yukon. 
The lynx exhibit is small (24,395 square feet) we did not get a good view of a lynx while we were there. Canadian lynx are found in Alaska and most of Canada, and a little bit into the northern U.S. 

The arctic fox enclosure is small (16,117 square feet), but that helps when trying to view a small, skittish, mammal. It appears that the arctic fox is found only in the very far north of Yukon.

The red fox enclosure is one of the smallest in the preserve, 10,890 square feet. It appears to be found throughout Yukon Territory.
The woodland caribou exhibit is 25.6 acres and I thought one of the best. It was long, fairly deep, and the caribou we saw were just like seeing them in the wild.
Although there is not an exhibit for the Arctic ground squirrel, they are prevalent on the Preserve. They hibernate during the winter and their temperature drops from 99 to 27 degrees!  

We also saw an American red squirrel on the grounds inside the mule deer enclosure.  

1 comment:

  1. It was fun to drive into the vast expanse of the Yukon, and those muskox were definitely a highlight.