Few people have the good fortune to be interrupted at their computer by the thunderous sound of two muskox butting heads.
Then again, I don’t know many who have bottle-fed a moose between budget meetings, event planning and grant writing.
This call of the wild – or, more specifically, call of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve — is why I moved to the Yukon earlier this year. This move of exactly 5,552 kilometres (he drove while I flew) was little more than a fleeting thought until we visited the Preserve last summer. We have never looked back.
At the time, I expect, it was the muskoxen. Their prehistoric appearance and primeval behaviour continues to fascinate me. They have enormous bodies that really look far too heavy for their short, stumpy legs. Yet, a muskox determined to run shows surprising agility and speed, just as a muskox determined to fight shows incredible brute strength – if not comparable intelligence.
Since joining the Preserve, however, I have become captivated by all of the species onsite. The Preserve offers me so much more than a fleeting glimpse at the side of the highway, or a lucky (or perhaps unlucky) encounter in nature. Like our visitors, I can just sit and watch and begin to identify species’ behaviours and individual animals’ personalities. Of course, I only do this on my lunch break.
And so, picking a single story to introduce this column is difficult. I am bursting with stories and observations, and I find myself constantly captivated by all that is going on around me.
With the exuberant Grade 4s gone for the day, the rustling aspen leaves are interrupted only by the irregular bellow of a mountain goat. Like an expectant aunt, I continue to jump up, walk over and sneak hopeful glances that there might finally be a baby today.
Life on the Preserve is teeming with activity. The rolling hills in front of me are dotted with caribou and their adorable, awkward week-old babies. I am kept company by the sounds of innumerable birds and bugs – including some rather silent ants and chatty ground squirrels that quite nearly join me as I sit to write.
It is days like today that I am so incredibly grateful to the many determined Yukoners who pushed for the creation of the Preserve, and for the many, many volunteers, members and funding partners who ensure it continues to be there for our enjoyment.
It was five years ago this week that the Yukon Wildlife Preserve opened its doors to the public, and there has never been a better time to celebrate.
This weekend, June 13 and 14, we are throwing our doors open to celebrate our fifth anniversary and you’re all invited.
Starting at noon there will be free tours, as well as birthday cake, kids’ activities and talented local musicians and food vendors.
Join us – and by us I mean the birds, the bugs, the babies and, of course, the muskox – and see for yourself.
Krista Prochazka loved the Yukon Wildlife Preserve so much, she made her family move to the Yukon to become its1k executive director. Contact her at [email protected]