Saskatoon residents used to seeing a variety of birds, rabbits, beaver, and even the occasional deer, fox, or coyote, mostly around the Meewasin Valley. But there is an incredible range of wildlife native to Saskatchewan that city dwellers rarely get to see.
A variety of species live either north or south of the part of the province Saskatoon is in. And in a lot of cases, wildlife that lives relatively nearby would never consider venturing into the city, at least during daylight hours.
But there is one massive Saskatchewan resident who has been making its presence known in the city of bridges. Once located primarily in the northern part of Saskatchewan, moose have been showing up in Saskatoon in larger numbers. A lot of people are wondering why.
Moose are long-time Saskatchewan residents
As a general rule, moose are no stranger to Saskatchewan, particularly the forests of the north. They love the old growth, closed in forests as it provides cover from predators and shelter from the extreme temperatures this province can have.
At the same time, they also need younger forests which offer re-growing trees to feed on. Additionally, they tend to lean towards areas with prominent and healthy wetlands in the summer months, which is where they go for aquatic foraging.
Essentially, moose need a relatively perfect blend of mature coniferous forests, young deciduous zones, and healthy wetlands. And until recently, they’ve been able to find that in northern Saskatchewan.
Moose on the move
Not surprisingly, human activity has played a large part in changing patterns in the lives of these massive herbivores. Logging, in particular, has had a massive impact as it drastically changes their ability to effectively find shelter and food.
Oddly enough, logging and forest fires do help them to an extent. Both actions cause large swaths of re-growth, which gives them greater access to food. But it hardly outweighs the downsides of exposure to extreme weather conditions and predators as well as the general decline of their natural environment.
As such, moose have been moving towards the southern portion of the province for the last two decades, which includes larger population centers like Saskatoon. That is certainly resulting in some interesting experiences for city residents.
Urban moose make their presence felt
People living in Saskatoon are used to seeing wildlife moving through the city. The South Saskatchewan River and the Meewasin Valley provide a natural corridor for animals to navigate Saskatoon with relative ease and safety. But that’s not their only option.
Natural areas like the Northeast Swale as well as naturalized parks like Lakewood provide solid conditions for moose. That includes native grasslands and aspen stands. Several have been spotted in and around the Lakewood area of Saskatoon over the last few years.
Normally, they just move through town and continue on their way. But a small number of them seem to be hanging around the region, if not within the city limits. It’s becoming increasingly common to spot tracks in the Meewasin Valley and other natural areas. Sometimes, the encounters become a lot more dramatic than that.
Saskatoon recently made international news because a young cow moose accidentally smashed her way into a school. No one, including the moose, was injured. But it did highlight the changing reality of our relationship with these massive, powerful animals.