Alive With Creatures, Large and Small

Muddy summer days and snowy winter days are an ideal time to discover the animals that travel through the Sanctuary. Moose tracks in the snowTracks of white-tailed deer are most common, along with snowshoe hares and two very small mammals: meadow voles and white-footed deer mice. Several sets of moose tracks have been observed along Whitemud Creek, as well as the tracks of a black bear. 

Animals leave other signs of their presence. For example, moose leave scat. Snowshoe hares “ring-bark” the vegetation they eat. Deer browse on the Sanctuary’s red osier-dogwood and leave broken twigs as signs of their dinner. During the winter you may see evidence of them “cratering” – digging down through the snow to get at buried food – near the edge of the ravine.

Signs of red squirrel are evident both by tracks and remains of spruce cones near clumps of mature spruce trees. Several beaver dams and beaver cuttings indicated presence of these species. Beaver dams provide lentic (still or slow moving water) habitat for bird and amphibian species that may not use the lotic (flowing water) Beaver signportions of Whitemud Creek. 

Other mammals recorded in the Sanctuary include porcupine, coyotes, chipmunks, bats and northern pocket gophers. Apparently wild boars were introduced accidentally into the area through the efforts of a local game farmer. None have been reported for some time.

Amphibian surveys conducted around the oxbow during the late spring and summer of 2003 (Eaton) found wood frogs and boreal chorus frogs.  It is possible that Canadian toads and tiger salamanders exist here, too. Overwintering habitat for toads and salamanders may be limited, however, due to the lack of the soft soil required for burrowing.