World Wildlife Day Round 2: Vote for your favourite mammal species

World Wildlife Day: vote for Canada lynx (photo by Mike Dembeck) ,moose (photo by Paul Turbitt) or gray fox (photo by John James Henderson)

World Wildlife Day: vote for Canada lynx (photo by Mike Dembeck) ,moose (photo by Paul Turbitt) or gray fox (photo by John James Henderson)

February 26, 2015 | by Wendy Ho | 0 Comments

Certain mammals, such as beavers and grizzly bears, have been very much a part of our Canadian heritage; symbols of this great and vast nation. There are many other mammal species that may be less in the limelight but are just as unique and a treasure to Canada. Vote for your favourite mammal species in round two of the World Wildlife Day poll:

Moose

The majestic moose is among the largest land animals in North America and is the world’s largest member of the deer family. Only the males carry antlers and mature bulls have racks that can extend two metres or more between the widest tips.

As with all members of the deer family, moose shed their antlers annually in the winter and grow them again in the spring. They eat a diet of plants, leaves and prefer aquatic vegetation over upland plants in the summer. During the winter they eat twigs, shrubs and will even strip bark from trees if food is scarce.

Moose in Cookville, NB (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Moose in Cookville, NB (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Moose lives in every Canadian province, except for PEI. They have a stable population and their numbers may even be increasing in parts of Canada. In New Brunswick, the moose population numbers close to 30,000 animals. Unfortunately, the population in mainland Nova Scotia is thinned to fewer than 1,000 individuals where the animal is listed as endangered.

The moose’ main natural predators are wolves, but black bears also prey on calves and weak adults. Starvation, parasites, disease and poaching (illegal hunting) also contribute to moose mortality.

Fast fact: When forced to run, a moose is surprisingly agile and can reach speeds of up to 35–45 kilometres per hour!

Learn more about moose conservation and what NCC is doing to protect habitat for this species >

Canadian lynx

The Canada lynx is a nationally endangered species, and it is provincially endangered in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

The Canada lynx is a nationally endangered species, and it is provincially endangered in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

The Canada lynx is a magnificent, powerful and stealthy member of the wild big cats of Canada’s boreal and northernmost forests. Like other big cats, the Canada lynx is secretive and seldom seen.

The species' winter coat of lush, silver grey with long guard hairs and brown underfur keeps them weather-proof even in harsh weather. In warmer seasons, they sport a much shorter summer coat of reddish brown.

Defining characteristics of the Canada lynx are the long tufts of fur on the ears (longer than those of the bobcat). Though not the fastest runners, the lynx’s long legs, large feet and padded paws enable them to move through the wilderness silently, climb trees, stalk and ambush prey at close range.

Snowshoe hares are a staple in their winter diet (more than 75 per cent). The summer menu can be supplemented with a variety of food such as voles, squirrels, foxes and even carrion (dead flesh) from livestock or big animals when available. For this reason, their population fluctuates and follows that of their main prey over 10-11 year cycles.

Although the Canada lynx population is distributed through much of the boreal or northernmost forests, their numbers have declined in some eastern Canadian provinces. They are currently listed as endangered in New Brunswick, critically imperilled in PEI and vulnerable in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fast fact: Lynxes hunt at night and will watch and listen for their prey but do not seem to track them by smell.

Read more about the Canada lynx and what NCC is doing to protect habitat for this species >

Gray fox

Gray fox (Photo by John James Henderson)

Gray fox (Photo by John James Henderson)

This elegant and elusive candidate is the only tree-climbing canine in the western hemisphere. The gray fox is about the size of a small dog and wears a grey coat with cinnamon coloured sides and white underparts. The species' black-tipped tail is one of the distinguishing features from the larger red fox, whose tail is white-tipped.

The range of this species in Canada is very restricted, although it is relatively common in the United States. Gray foxes prefer deciduous forests and swampy areas of southern Canada. In Ontario, the only resident, breeding population is found on Pelee Island.

These canines are not picky eaters. In fact, gray foxes have the most varied diet of North American canids, consisting of mammals and small rodents in winter while birds, eggs, vegetable matter. Insects are also consumed during summer.

The status of the gray fox is designated as threatened due to its limited range and rare occurrences in Manitoba. Habitat loss is the main threat to this species throughout its range.

Find out what NCC is doing to protect habitat for this species >

 Vote for your favourite mammal
   

About the Author

Wendy Ho is Nature Conservancy of Canada's editorial coordinator.

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