Column: Our wildlife in winter and ecology changing fires of Austrila

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

A crisp wind rustled the mottled cat tails of the winter marsh.

In the forest, snow continued to fall. Only the chi-chi-chi of the chickadee’s tiny song could be heard.

Wildlife’s evolving cycle of the seasons had began. A perilous adaption of cold survival for each species.

Unless attuned to the ecology of the forest around us, we pay scant attention to what is happening. On the other side of the world, it’s totally heartbreaking to see what is occurring to the animals of Australia, including the kangaroo’s, koala’s and other reptiles and rodents due to the continuing devastating bush fires. Their ecology in most parts has changed forever, as have human activities – industrial and recreational.

(News just came out that our Boreal forest may undergo major ecological change due to wildfire.)

Here in B.C., animals adapt to the seasons. Winter: Ducks and geese have double circulation pumping warm blood to the extremities (feet) and cold blood back to warm. Your dog does too.

Wild animals (moose, deer) have a protective fatty acid (eicosapentaenoic acid) flowing through their blood vessels to extremities that acts like antifreeze.

Read more: SPCA urges province to include mandatory plans for pets during emergencies

Read more: Australian couple staying in B.C. says fires in their state double the size of Vancouver Island

With our deep snow, moose have moved to the valley bottoms. Deer yard up in old growth, under fir and spruce trees, foraging on box wood fir birch tips. Their fat reserves are quickly used up. Deer use physical behavior adaptions, facing different directions while bedded, on the look out for predators while curling up to stay warm.

Life in our Shuswap winter forests is greatly affected by a feast and famine existence due to prey/predator interactions. In Australia, we’ll see ecological life-changing effects for the remaining wildlife, as well as the folks Down Under.

Fortunately, our animals go through thermoregulation in winter, based on Allen’s rule: Permanent extremities such as ears, legs backs, tails are a source of heat loss, which means they grow smaller in cold climates, and larger in warm climates. Overall, for bears and small critters snoozing in their dens it’s good. But for our younger deer, plus predators, it’s going to be tough in deep snow.

Keep shovelling snow and smile – that’s all we can do!

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Word on the street: How do you spend a snow day?

When snow cancels school and your boss tells you to stay home,… Continue reading

Sports Shorts

Keep up to date with local sporting events and news segments Curling… Continue reading

Photo reminds Salmon Arm resident of connection to former drama teacher Justin Trudeau

Prime minister remembered as being as a funny, larger-than-life person

Dining moose a welcome distraction at Salmon Arm campus

Pair feast on willows, unperturbed by onlookers at Okanagan College

COLUMN: Choosing a face to show the world

It will not be easy to select the face to display on Canada’s new $5 bill

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

B.C. town spends $14.14 per resident for snow removal in one month

Costs of snow removal to the Town of Princeton skyrocketed in December.… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Most Read