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Wildlife
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 One of the joys of the Bragg Creek area is the abundance of wildlife to be found, and it can get pretty wild out there!  From tiny voles and squirrels to majestic mountain lions and bears, the variety of animals really gives the feeling of being at one with nature.

Before you read further, remember that bears and cougars can be particularly dangerous.  Information on what to do if you encounter a bear or a cougar can be found here.  Simply download the excellent brochures ‘Bear In Mind’ and ‘Living With Cougars’ and be prepared!

Bears

Alberta is home to two bear species, the black bear (ursus americanus) and the grizzly bear (ursus arctos horribilis).

Grizzly bearBlack bear

The grizzly bear (also known as the silvertip bear or North American brown bear) is the larger of the two, weighing between 200 and 880 pounds, whereas the black bear can be from 100 to 440 pounds.  The most obvious way of telling the difference between them is that a grizzly’s body is at its tallest at the shoulder where there is a hump, and a brown bear is tallest at the rump.  Both species can range in colour from black to blond, and both primarily eat plants, berries and insects, though the grizzly tends to be more carnivorous and more commonly hunt large mammals as prey.
Check out this excellent table comparing the two species from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development for more information.

Cougars

Cougar or mountain lion

The cougar, or mountain lion is a large, solitary member of the cat family with the greatest range of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, from the Yukon to the southern Andes in South America.  The cougar is a very capable stalk-and-ambush predator, eating mainly deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle and horses.  It will also hunt species as small as insects and rodents. This cat prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but it can also live in open areas.  Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation, and abundance of prey.  It is a reclusive cat and usually avoids people.  Attacks on humans remain fairly rare.

 

Moose

The moose is the largest member of the deer family, and are distinguishable by their large, flattish antlers.  It’s also been said that a moose is like a badly drawn cow!  Despite their odd appearance they are surprisingly nimble creatures, and with their great height (often 6 to 7 feet high at the shoulder) they can easily bound over high fences. 
All moose are herbivores and can eat any types of plant or fruit.  Eating is pretty much a full time activity because the average adult moose requires approximately 9770 calories per day.

Female (cow) moose    Male (bull) moose

 More information about the moose can be found here.

Deer

White-tailed deerDeer are the most common wild animals to be seen in the Bragg Creek area, and when driving you should watch out for them darting across roads out of the blue.  There are both mule deer and white-tailed deer, both of whom have white tailed rumps (with the mule deer having less white).  The white-tailed deer also has white under markings and white flashes around its snout.  Mule deer larger ears and a black tipped tail.  Both species are about 3 to 4 feet in height and 5 to 6 feet in length, with the females about 20% smaller.  Their coats are brownish in the summer and slightly grey in winter.
Deer live on grasses, leaves and twigs. They are constantly on the move for new food sources and are vigilant to any sounds around them. This, combined with their terrific agility in woods, is the main defence against predators.
The most enchanting thing to see deer to do is bounce when they run.  This is actually called “stotting” or “pronking”, when they land on all 4 hooves at once.

Beavers

The phrase ‘busy as a beaver’ is never more true than when applied to the animal itself.  They are unusual among wildlife in that they actually modify their environment for their own personal use, eternally gnawing trees with their constantly growing teeth.  They can fell up to 200 trees in a year and have a massive impact on the landscape.
Beavers are about 3 to 4 feet long, have dark brown oily coats, a paddle-like tail and weigh up to 70 pounds.

Beaver

They eat bark from branches and develop a layer of fat for insulation.  Did you know that they are active under the ice in winter?
The ponds created by well-maintained dams help isolate the beavers' homes, their lodges, which are created from severed branches and mud. The beavers cover their lodges late every autumn with fresh mud, which freezes when the frost sets in. The mud becomes almost as hard as stone, protecting the inhabitants from predators.  A little known fact is that there are typically two dens in a lodge, one for drying off after leaving the water, and a drier one where the family actually lives.
 

More information about the abundant wildlife in our area can be found here.

Lynx Horned owl Coyote (photo by Rebecca Richardson)  

 

 
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