It was a record-breaking summer at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, with 4,899 visitors coming through the gates for wildlife viewing this past August. Compare that with 3,200 visitors in the entire first year of operation in 2004–05, and you get an idea of how the preserve has built a reputation as one of Yukon’s major tourist attractions.
The operations have also expanded in ways that attract locals by the thousands, including school programs, family passes, team-building opportunities, run/ski/walk events, an annual Yukoner Day and special activities planned around most holidays.
The arrival of new babies is always a draw for visitors in the spring and early summer. This year, the preserve welcomed a number of newborns, including elk, mountain goats and mule deer. Warm weather and the long hours of daylight also contribute to the high number of summer visitors, but with Yukon’s growing winter tourism sector, the preserve has also expanded its range of activities throughout the winter months.
Executive director for the preserve, Jake Paleczny, said, “We are open and welcoming visitors daily until Thanksgiving Monday, then operating with reduced hours every Friday to Sunday, with the exception of extended hours [open daily] between Christmas and the end of Christmas holidays, and the same for March Break.”
Special events on the calendar this autumn include a Certified Interpretive Guide Training Course, delivered by Paleczny from October 30 to November 2, and fall and winter school programming, linked to current curriculum, specialized for Yukon students from November 8 to December 13. Coming up quickly is the Halloween Wild Trick or Treat event scheduled for October 28, which will include carnivore feedings, a scavenger hunt and a bonfire. Don your costumes to watch the wildlife feast on carved pumpkins, as well.
You can learn more about these special offerings by contacting the Wildlife Preserve or visiting their website, www.yukonwildlife.ca. Once the snow falls, visitors can bring along their skis and snowshoes and pull the kids in their sleds around the trails to see the animals sporting their winter coats.
Aside from the educational programming and wildlife viewing opportunities, the preserve cares for Yukon’s injured and orphaned wildlife, to give them a second chance at life. As these services expand, so does the cost of care. Check out the recently launched donate.yukonwildlife.ca to see how far a financial gift can go for wildlife rehabilitation at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. The website features success stories, a history of the preserve, costs of care and what your dollars provide for wild animals in need. Your contributions help provide the best-possible veterinary care to get them back on their feet (or wings).
“For over 50 years, we’ve been providing care for Yukon’s most-vulnerable animals. We’ve given [them] a home and rehabilitated sick, injured or orphaned wildlife. But with increasing demand and rising costs, we need your help to continue providing Yukon wildlife with exceptional care,” added Paleczny. “Our goal is to raise $60,000 this year. Whether through a one-time donation or monthly ongoing support, your support is critical to provide the necessary procedures, supplies and expertise required to keep Yukon wild.”
The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is located at kilometre eight on the Takhini Hot Springs Road, approximately a 25-minute drive from Whitehorse. It is a unique property featuring 13 species of northern Canadian mammals in their natural environment. Encompassing over 700 acres, with various natural habitats, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve offers unparalleled wildlife viewing and photo opportunities, ready to accommodate individuals, groups, families and corporate visits.