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Find the best places to hunt Lynx in Canada and discover the Lynx's Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status.

Provinces with Lynx Hunting

Province / Territory

Species

Season

Nunavut

Not Present

 

Northwest Territories

Not Present

 

Yukon

Not Present

 

British Columbia

Present

 Season Available

Alberta

Present

 

Saskatchewan

Present

 

Manitoba

Present

 

Ontario

Present

 

Quebec

Present

 

New Brunswick

Present

 

Nova Scotia

Present

No Season 
Prince Edward Island Present  
Newfoundland Present Trapping Only

Selecting a Calibre for Lynx

Vital Shot Placement for Lynx

Original Photo By: Susanne Nilsson - Flickr

Modified By Canada-hunts.ca 

Not to damage the pelt seems to be the key to this selection yet you still don't want an exploding projectile if it hits a blade of grass. The 22-250 and the .223 with 80-grain bullets get the nod in a lot of forms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynx Paw

foot pads are usually obscured by dense hair, and tracks do not sink more than 8" into snow.

Lynx Paw

Front

  • 2.375 - 4.25 Inches (6 - 10.8 cm) Long
  • 2.375 - 5.625 Inches (6 - 14.3 cm) Wide

Rear

  • 2.5 - 4.125 Inches (6.4 - 10.5 cm) Long
  • 2.125 - 5 Inches (6.4 - 12.7 cm) Wide

Trail Width

  • 5 - 9.5 Inches (12.7 - 24.1 cm) Wide
Photo By: Qwekiop 147 - Flickr  

 

 

 

Lynx Scat

 

Lynx Scat

Photo By: US Forestry Service - Flickr

 

 Range and Habitat of Lynx

Lynx Range Map of Canada

Lynx Range Map of CanadaOriginal map of canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Modified By: Canada-Hunts.ca

Generally associated with boreal forests, the Lynx can also found in parkland and mountain forests. It requires developing stands of forest to provide prey and mature forest to provide den sites. Its preferred habitat is thick

under story

vegetation like those found deep in evergreen forests near rocky areas, bogs, and swamps that are found throughout the Boreal Forests and Rocky Mountains of North America. Anywhere from the tree-line of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, on southward to British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. In the Rocky Mountains, it is found in British Columbia and Alberta.

There is a very strong relationship between the snowshoe hare and the lynx in that 75% of its diet consists of snowshoe hare. The Lynx home range size may vary from 8 to 800 square kilometers, depending on the cats’ sex, age, and abundance of prey. Larger summer home ranges are typical, due to broader habitat use and greater availability of alternate prey. In addition to the abundance of prey, it also requires protection from severe weather, availability of denning and resting sites, dense cover for hunting, and freedom from human disturbance.

Male and female home ranges commonly overlap but except for mating season, there is limited contact with other males or females.

Forest fires, mining, and logging are major factors that effects diminish available Lynx habitat. 

Lynx (Lynx)
Lynx Males Females
Life Span 12 – 20 years
Shoulder Height 48–56 centimeters (19–22 in) 
Overall Length 80 and 100 centimeters (31 and 39 in)
Weight 5–18 kilograms (11–40 lb)
Weight at Birth 175 to 235 g (6.2 to 8.3 oz)
Tail Length  5–15 centimeters (2.0–5.9 in)
Hearing Good Hearing 
Eyes Excellent 
Dental Formula  I 3/3, C 1/1, Pm 2/2, M 1/1 X 2 = 28
Body Temperature 101.5 degrees F
Track Paw - normally 4 toes show.
Can Travel 80 Km/hr (50 m/hr)
Diet Carnivour
Sexual Maturity  2-3 years                10 months
Breeding Time March and April
Gestation N/A 63-70 days
Birthing N/A May or early June
# in Litter N/A 2-4 Kittens, average
Weaning 3 Months
Communication They scent-mark their ranges by spraying urine and depositing feces on snow or tree stumps. The lynx has a variety of vocalizations, like those made by house cats, but louder.

 

Lynx (Lynx)

Lynx Lynx

Photo By - Michael Zahra - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mzahra1/4254614252/in/photostream/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11517734

 

 Lynx - Bobcat Comparison

Comparison of Lynx and BobcatOriginal Lynx Photo From: Pixabay                                     Original Bobcat Photo by: Linda Tanner - Flickr

Modified by: Canada-Hunts.ca

 

Like all cats, the Lynx is an exclusive meat eater.

Synonym(s)

  • Felis canadensis
  • Felis lynx canadensis
  • Felis lynx

Its common name is a Lynx but if you are to do research on this animal try looking up Canada Lynx, Canadian Lynx, Catamount, Gray Wildcat or Lynx Cat.

Because of its similarity to theBobcatit is often mistaken for its cousin. It weighs in at 8 to 11 kilograms (18 to 24 lb), has an overall length of 80 to 105 centimetres (31 to 41 in), stands 48 to 56 centimetres (19 to 22 in) at the shoulder, and has a much shorter tail of 5-15 cm (2.0 -5.9 inches) long.

Distinguishing features include, large paws, black stripes on its forehead, flared facial ruff, long black ear tufts, and the tip of its short tail is black. The ears on the bobcat are rounded whereas the ears on the Lynx are pointed. Also, the Lynx is much larger than the Bobcat.

The lynx's coloring, fur length and large paw size vary according to the climate of their range. The Lynx fur is more uniform in color with less spotting. Its body color will vary from a medium brown to gold to a beige-white color with dark brown spots over its outer body and the surface of its legs. The chest area, the inside of its legs, and its belly for all subspecies of lynx have white fur.

  • Its broad paws make it twice as effective as a bobcat at supporting its weight on the snow.
  • Its hind legs are longer than front legs and sharp, retractable claws.
  • Its front and hind feet each have four functional toes.
  • As you move more north to colder climatic conditions, the fur of the Lynx gets thicker, lighter in color, and their paw becomes larger for traveling on top of the snow.
  • The Canada lynx is a quick efficient climber and a good swimmer.
  • It tends to make its dens under fallen logs or rocky shelves.

Diet and Foraging Strategy of Lynx

Lynx

Lynx_2Original Photo By - Susanne Nilsson - Flickr

Lynx have a very close and consistent predator-prey relationship with the Snowshoe Hare. Snowshoe Hares will compose 33% to 100% of the Lynx diet. This means that the population of the Lynx will be cyclical increasing and decreasing over a ten-year period as it follows the Snowshoe Hare cycle.

Lynxarecarnivorous, feeding almost exclusively and being dependent on snowshoe hares and their numbers. However, when hare numbers fall alternate prey includes squirrels, mice, voles, beaver, muskrat, fish, foxes, sheep, goats, grouse, ptarmigan, waterfowl, turkeys, and other birds.

In addition to sometimes eating carrion it can and may hunt larger animals like white-tailed deer, caribou, and small red deer. Lynxpreferfresh meat but will often store the leftovers of their larger kills by caching it with a layer snow or brush and retrieve the cache within a couple of days.

Adult lynx usually hunt alone at night, with the exception, of course being a female with her cubs. The lynx has two mythologies in hunting. The first is to stalk its prey before pouncing on it. The second is to climb a tree near a trail that is well used by hares and other prey species and ambush the passing prey.  Ambushing techniques are more likely to be used during times of low prey density.

  • Lynx are generally solitary hunters, except females with kittens.
  • The Lynx is nocturnal, and it will cover 3 to 9 kilometers in a 24 hour period with some peaks to 20 kilometers depending on prey densities and snow conditions.
  • Females with kittens have more restricted movements.
  • Home territory changes will either occur from March to June or in mid-winter during the period of greatest nutritional stress. Movements of 100 to 1100 km are common.
  • Dispersing Lynx do not travel further in a 24-hour period than residents. 

Breeding and Reproduction of Lynx

Lynx Kittens

Lynx_kittensPhoto From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dlbezaire/3636709173

Depending on the local climate and the availability of local prey. Female lynx come into estrus for three to five days sometime in March to May. 

The female urinates where a male has marked his territory, and by repeated calling will attract a male for mating purposes. The couple will remain together for a couple of days and mating can occur as much as six times an hour. Females will mate with only one male this season, but the male may mate with multiple females in the same season.

Gestation lasts for around 63 - 70 days so that the young are born in May or early June with the female doing all the rearing of the kittens. Before giving birth, a maternal den is made in very thick brush, inside thickets of shrubs, trees, woody debris, under rock ledges, blow downs, hollow logs, or entangled roots. The dens are generally situated mid-slope and face south or southwest in coniferous or mixed-wood stands that contain a high amount of downed woody debris.

During low hare abundance, some females may only have a litter every other year which shows a great deal of reproductive variance by this cat in that litter size and mortality of kittens is dependent upon the abundance or lack of prey. In times of higher prey populations, litter sizes are larger and mortality rates are lower. But in times of low prey populations, kitten mortality may be as high as 95%.

Litters of 1-5 kittens are born only once a year, with 2-4 being the average. The kittens come into the world weighing from 175 to 235 g (6.2 to 8.3 oz), blind and fully dependent upon their mother for the first 14 days. They are born with a grayish buff fur and have black markings. Kittens open their bright blue eyes at around 10-17 days but as they mature their eyes will become a brown-hazel color. They will begin to walk somewhere between 24 to30 days.

The mother initially brings food to her kittens and allows them to play with it before eating it, thus training their hunting skills. They leave the den after about five weeks, are weaned at twelve weeks and accompany their mother on hunting adventures at seven to nine months of age. The cubs will winter with their mother but as the next breeding season begins (10 months of age), they will be forced to leave their mother as she will be coming into estrus. The male cubs will leave earlier and move farther away than female cubs who frequently settle within a portion of their mother’s home range.

The kittens do not reach full adult size until around two years old. However, Female Lynx are capable of breeding at 10 months of age, however,  they generally do not breed for another year. Males will be two to three years old before they reach sexual maturity.

Status of Lynx in Canada

Province Status
Nunavut Not Ranked
Northwest Territories Secure
Yukon Secure
British Columbia Apparently Secure
Alberta Secure
Saskatchewan Secure
Manitoba Secure
Ontario Secure
Quebec Secure
New Brunswick Critically Imperilled
Nova Scotia Critically Imperilled
Prince Edward Island N/A
Newfoundland Vunerable
Labrador Apparently Secure

 

Here in Canada, the trapping industry in all provinces except PEI, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, year after year takes a number of Lynx for their pelts and in turn, take a leading role in the death of Lynx. On a ten year cycle, the most important impact on the Lynx has got to be following the cyclic population of the snowshoe hare.

There are a few reports of rabies and distemper in the Canadian Lynx, however, its effect on the Lynx population is unknown.

The Lynx is iconic for being an animal of the Canadian Wilderness but it seems to do well even within human developments. I even know of a case where a lady started to let a lynx into her home and kicked it out.

The timber industry depending on its method of reforestation may actually increase the incidence of Lynx as it creates more habit for the snowshoe hare.

 

References

  • http://lcvirtualwildlife.ca/index.php/canadalynx
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynx
  • Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.
  • Hinterland Who's Who - http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/mammals/canada-lynx-1.html
  • https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/species/mammals/lynx/lynx_faq.pdf

 

Photo Credits - Background

Susanne Nilsson - Flickr

  • Listing information on this website has been collected and presented as accurately as possible.
  • In case of any difference(s) between the information listed about outfitter's / resorts / guides.
  • The outfitter's website should always be taken.
  • This website should not be considered as the final say when it comes to hunting regulations.
  • Always consult the Provincial / Territorial jurisdiction that you are going to when planning your hunt.
  • Images on this site have been collected and used under Creative Commons License or are public domain images. 
  • Recipes are the work of Canada-Hunts.ca. You may reprint and distribute them for personal non commercial use. 
  • Please include Canada-Hunts.ca as your source on all copies.
  • Hunting Optics Blog information was provided by the generosity of Vortex Canada.
  • All work in that blog is their sole property and permission to reuse it should be directed to Vortex of Canada.

If you need more information use the form below and contact us.

Find the best places to hunt Muskox in Canada and discover the Muskoxen's Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status. 

Provinces with Muskox Hunting

Nunavut Resident and Non-Resident
North West Territories Resident and Non-Resident

Selecting a Calibre to Hunt Muskox

Vital Shot Placement for Muskox


Vital Shot Placement for MuskoxPhoto From:

http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/species/speciesinfo/muskox/pdfs/muskoxguide.pdf

To assure the most efficient killing capability and to reduce the chances of wounding loss, a minimum of a 30.06 or larger is recommended. When hunting musk oxen, hunters should be proficient with whatever firearm they use to avoid poor shot placement.

Proper Use good judgment and strive for a clean shot while distance muskoxen hunting. Patience is a necessity because it is common for muskoxen to group up after the disturbance of a shot. This makes identification of the wounded animal for follow up shots very difficult. Take your time, know what lies behind your target, wait for muskoxen to disperse, and allow your first shot to be the best shot for a clean kill.

Shooting Opinions of the best shot placement on muskoxen vary. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game recommends a shot at the broadside center of the shoulder angled slightly forward, so the bullet passes through the heart and lungs and exits through the opposite shoulder. This placement has a high likelihood of resulting in a clean kill. Neck shots are not recommended.

Muskox Hooves

 
 

Front Track

  • 4.25" - 5.5" (10.8 -14 cm) long
  • 4.375" - 6" (11.1 - 15.2 cm) wide

Rear Track

  • 3.75" - 4.25" (9.5 -11.4 cm) long
  • 4" - 4.25" (10.2 -11.4 cm) wide

Trail Width

  • 10" - 18" (25.4-45.7 cm)
 

Photo By: Bering Land Bridge National Preserve – Flicker

Croped by: Canada-Hunts.ca

 

 

 

 

Range and Distribution of Muskox - Muskoxen

Muskox Range Map of Canda

Original map of Canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Modified By: Canada-Hunts.ca

 

The current world population of muskoxen is estimated at between 80,000 and 125,000, of which 85,000 to 90,000 are in Canada. Of that world’s majority, an estimated 68,788 are living on Banks Island in the North West Territories.

Muskoxen use the low-lying coastal and inland plains or river valleys of the Arctic where they feed on lichen, and roots. Summer time has the musk oxen grazing on fresh growing arctic flowers and grasses. 

Some summer studies of the Muskox in Canada’s High Artic showed that Muskox feeding periods were greater than resting periods. Favoured forage for the Muskoxen were made up of grass like plants in wet meadows and consisted of willow (Salix arctica), grasses, forbs, and the flowers of vascular plants. It was suggested that the abundance and distribution of these sedge-producing meadows may actually control the regional population and distribution of muskoxen.

 

Muskox/Muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus)

Muskox in Defensive Position

Muskox Defensive Herd Formation
Photo By: By West Robin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Living in the Canadian Arctic, the muskox is an Arctic mammal of the family Bovidae and subfamily Caprinae. Muskox or Muskoxen are related to sheep and goats. It is noted for its thick coat and during the rut, males have a strong odour, which contributes to its derived name and that odour is used during the mating season to attract females.

Albino Muskoxen have been recorded, but they are predominately a mixed color consisting of blacks, greys, and browns. The fur on this prehistoric looking mammal consists of two layers. The outer layer consists of long guard hairs that does not shed and appears to almost touch the ground. The second layer is a soft wool inner hair called qiviut (pronouced kiv-ee-ute) that does shed or moult and you will find this hanging on shrubs and vegetation where Muskoxen frequent. This qiviut is sought for its insulating value, softness, and length. With a raw current price of $35.00 per oz. maybe you can collect enough to pay for your hunting trip.

Muskoxen are stocky, long-haired animals with a slight shoulder hump, a large head, and a very short tail that is 3.9 inches (10 cm) long. This mammal because of its head size and its long shaggy hair appears to be a large animal and one would compare it to a bison but it is actually only ½ the bison’s mass with an average weight of only 285 kg (630 lb).

In watching a video of two wolves preying on a Muskox calf that was alone, it was impressive to see that the entire herd would charge the attacking wolves and bring the calf into the center of a defensive circle and face the wolves head on thus protecting the calf from predation. Apparently this defensive behaviour is also practiced for sick and elderly Muskoxen. The formation of this defence could be a straight line, a semi circle, or even a full circle. The formation is determined by bull Muskox during the rutting season, but for the rest of the year it is the cows who determine the formation.

Both male and female Muskoxen have their own rank and file that is based more on the age of the animal. And with rank comes the benefits of the best winter feeding craters, best patches of grass, and the best places to rest.

Bulls reinforce their dominance by several tactics and will assert their position on bulls and cows alike. One tactic is called the “rush and butt”. Here, the dominate bull charges the underling from its side thus warning the subordinate and giving it a chance to move away. Vocal roars, swinging of their head, and pawing the ground is a second tactic and kicking an underling’s foreleg makes a third way. The thing for a subordinate bull to do to change his position in the rank and file is to charge the dominate bull.

Muskox is non-territorial and form herds of 12–24 in the winter, in April or June (calving season) they will form smaller groups of 8–20 for the summer.

Muskoxen will mark their trails with scent from preorbital glands (located about the eye). As mentioned earlier, these herds have periods of feeding and resting. Muskox lies down and ruminates during resting periods. Being a ruminant, they have four stomach chambers that allow them to digest plant material by bringing their food back up, and re-chewing the cud to increase digestion. The first chamber has bacteria where the food undergoes fermentation which breaks down the plant material for absorption. After the food is fermented, the sheep regurgitates it and chews the food again. This second chewing is called rumination. After the second chewing, the food goes through the other three chambers and then to the intestines. From start to finish, it may take 4 days to completely process a meal.

The calves use this resting time to play in groups; play may be as simple as running around the adults that are resting or even more robust play of head butting competitions. This not to say, that adults don’t play as times, as they do exhibit playful activities such as jumping and spinning around in the shallows of river crossings.

The period from November to February is winter for the Muskox and is also a time period of total darkness. The muskox form up into large mixed herds and despite the lack of daylight and the extreme cold temperature of -18°C (-0.4 °F) they continue their periods of feeding and resting like nothing has changed. The only time they will change their pattern is when a harsh storm blankets the area, then they will simply lie down with their backs to the wind and ride it out. If winter conditions get too harsh, that winter, cows will not go into estrus the following summer.

A muskox begins to grow its antlers as a calf at 4 to 5 weeks of age and that growth will not stop until it is about six years old.

Mature Bulls (4 years and older)

A Mature bull will stand about 5 ft high (1.5 m) at the shoulder, be 200 to 250 cm (6.6 to 8.2 ft) in overall length, and weigh 600–800 lbs (273–364 kg). An 800-lb bull dresses out at about 480 (218 kg) lbs and will provide about 275 lbs (125 kg) of actual meat.

Both cows and bulls develop horns, but the horns of a mature Bull (four years and older) will be thicker and have more mass that those of a cow. The bulls develop what is called a boss at the base of each horn; this boss is a thick bone (3.9 inches - 10 cm.) at the base of each horn that is almost right across their entire brow. They will have very little hair in that gap when compared to a cow and the state of their horns will be an indication of their life struggles as some horns will be highly worn, cracked, or even broken off.       

Mature Cows (4 years and older)

A cow Muskox will stand about 4 high (1.1 m) at the shoulder, be 4.4 to 6.6 (135 to 200 cm) in overall length and weigh 400 to 500 lbs (182 to 227 Kg)..

Cows do not grow a thick boss at the base of their horns like a bull does; the base of their horn is small, dark and visible. You will also find that the diameter and mass of their horns is not as great as the bulls. The color of their horns or horn tips is not a good indicator for determining sex and the length of the hook on their horns is difficult to ascertain from a distance.

Immature Bulls (4 years and younger)

Young bulls, especially 2 and 3 year olds, are hard to distinguish from mature cows because their horn boss is not yet developed and they show a lot of hair between the bases of the horns. It takes a good eye to discern that the young bull’s horn is a little heavier and you are looking for the horn to curve down then forward, and the tip to point up and forward.

Muskox Identification
Source: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/species/speciesinfo/muskox/pdfs/muskoxguide.pdf

Diet and Foraging strategy of Muskox

Muskox

Muskox_photo_2
Photo By Hannes Grobe), AWI (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

In the summer, Muskoxen can be found on the mainland where they will follow river valleys, where as, on the islands they will search out the wet meadow lands that the island offers. In either case, they forage for willow, woody plants, lichen, grasses, and moss the whole time while dodging pesky biting insects which are more of a problem on the mainland than on the islands.

When winter arrives, they still forage in the same territories; however, they will seek out wind swept areas where the snow is less than 7.9 inches (20 cm) deep. Most of the time, this layer of snow can be pawed away in order to expose their food source in what scientists call a crater. But as the winter carries on, constant blowing snow can create a hard crust that you can walk on. If the crusty snow can not be cleared away by pawing the ground the Muskoxen will break through the crust by dropping their chin onto the hard snow, breaking the crust, and then pawing away the chunks of hardened snow to get at the grasses and sedges. Its’ position in the hierarchy of the herd will determine when and if it gets to feed at the crater.

So, if everything is covered with snow from September all the way into June how do the Muskoxen know where their food is? The answer is simple, their sense of smell is so good that they can smell the forage under the snow cover and their eye sight is well developed to allow them to see during the winter’s period of total darkness.

Breeding and Reproduction of Muskox

Muskoxen with Calf

 

Photo By: Andrew Gray – Flickr

Mating season for the Muskox arrives in late June and early July. It is at this time that females at the age of 2 and males at the age of 5 will begin to participate in the rut. The dominant bull of the herd will drive all other males out and try to establish a breeding herd of 6 or 7 receptive cows (plus that cows’ offspring). The dominant bull will try to prevent cows from leaving his harem but he may at times have to defend his ranking from another bull. Here, the ritual is one of each bull rubbing his preorbital glands on his legs or ground and making a loud roar, then comes a strutting display of their horns, they will back up 65 ft (20 meters), lower their heads, and CHARGE. The decision may not be formalized at this point and head on pushing, horn hooking, and wrestling tactics may decide the outcome. Once the outcome is determined and one bull quits, the looser will go solo or join a bachelor herd of subordinates and elderly bulls. Should the solo bull need the protection of the herd, he will be allowed back!

August is the actual time at which mating occurs and although the foreleg kick is a dominance tactic, during mating season, it is used on estrous cows in order to calm the cow and make her more open to his advances.

Bulls in these harem groups can get quire aggressive and is the bull that makes all the decision for the group during mating season. However, once mating is complete and the cow enters its gestation period, it is the cow that takes charge of the group and decides how far the group will travel that day, where they will feed, and where they will rest. At the end of the summer the larger herds of Muskoxen form back up.

The gestation period for the cow is eight to nine months and it is in April or June that pregnant cows have their calves while with the herd. The calves are able to travel with the herd only a few hours after birth. The herd will move a lot after calving season in order to obtain enough nourishment to produce milk for their calves. Calves will nurse predominately for their first two month’s and there after will take in mother’s milk for a first year occasionally but will also be foraging on grasses and plants. Calves rely of the safety of the herd for traveling in, nursing with their mother, and safety and the bond between itself and its mother diminishes at about two years of age. 

Status of Muskox in Canada

Under the IUCN red list of threatened species, the Muskox is listed as of least concern (2008)

The story is somewhat of a success story for the Muskoxen. The herds of Muskox were just about wiped out as a food source for whalers and explorers along with trapping activities by fur traders. That happened by the early 1900’s and it was in 1917 that the Muskox in Canada became a protected species.

The herds of Muskox have since slowly recovered and hunting (since 1970) is now permitted in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

Domestication attempts of Muskoxen have be tried in order to obtain meat, milk, and wool. A domestication failure (not economically viable) of muskox in Kuujjuag Quebec caused the wool farm financiers in 1973 to release their domesticated herds of 54 animals into the wild. By 2003, there were an estimated 1,400 muskox in northern Quebec.

A herd in Alaska was wiped out by 1920 and in 1934, 34 Muskoxen from Greenland were transferred to Alaska and by the year 2000, there were 4,000 muskoxen in Alaska. This success story is important to Canadians because some of that population is now spreading itself into the Yukon Territory.

Predators of the Muskox include Polar Bear, Grizzly Bear, and most notably the arctic wolf. In all cases, it the young, elderly, injured, and weak that is the target for predation

As with all species, parasites, diseases, worn teeth, age, weather conditions, and availability of food are the catch all that takes a toll in the late winter to early spring. For it is at this time that the fat reserves of the animal are at their lowest and then these fore mentioned factors come into play.

 

References

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muskox
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banks_Island
  • https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.761275
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AMuskox
  • Hinterland Who's Who - http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/mammals/muskox.html
  • http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/species/speciesinfo/muskox/pdfs/muskoxguide.pdf
  • http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/muskox/
  • https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/hunting/muskoxhunting/pdfs/muskox_information.pdf
  • http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=muskox.main

Photo Credits - Background

Photo by Per Harald Olsen/NTNU - Flickr

  • Listing information on this website has been collected and presented as accurately as possible.
  • In case of any difference(s) between the information listed about outfitter's / resorts / guides.
  • The outfitter's website should always be taken.
  • This website should not be considered as the final say when it comes to hunting regulations.
  • Always consult the Provincial / Territorial jurisdiction that you are going to when planning your hunt.
  • Images on this site have been collected and used under Creative Commons License or are public domain images. 
  • Recipes are the work of Canada-Hunts.ca. You may reprint and distribute them for personal non commercial use. 
  • Please include Canada-Hunts.ca as your source on all copies.
  • Hunting Optics Blog information was provided by the generosity of Vortex Canada.
  • All work in that blog is their sole property and permission to reuse it should be directed to Vortex of Canada.

If you need more information use the form below and contact us.

Find the best places to hunt Bobcat in Canada and discover the Bobcat's Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status.

Provinces with Bobcat Hunting

Province / Territory

Species

Season

Nunavut

Not Present

 

Northwest Territories

Not Present

 

Yukon

Not Present

 

British Columbia

Present

Season Available 

Alberta

Present

Resident

Saskatchewan

Present

 

Manitoba

Present

 

Ontario

Present

 

Quebec

Present

 

New Brunswick

Present

 

Nova Scotia

Present

 

Prince Edward Island

Present

 

Newfoundland

Not Present

 

Provinces with Bobcat Hunting

British Columbia Resident and Non Resident


Selecting a Calibre for Bobcats

Bobcat Vital Shot Placement

Vital Shot Placement for BobcatOriginal Photo by: Linda Tanner - Flickr

Modified by: Canada-Hunts.ca

Pellet damage is the key factor when choosing a round for this cat. So any caliber like the .223 or 22-250 will work fine. You could even choose a .17 on the low end and up to a .243 on the high end. Careplacingyour round and bullet choice with your preferred firearm of choosing is the key.  What you want here is a single hole in and no exit wound. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobcat Track

Bobcat tracks show four toes without claw marks, due to their retractable claws

Bobcat prints 'directly registers', meaning its hind prints usually fall exactly on top of its fore prints

Bobcat Track Front Paw:
  • 1.625 - 2.5 inches (4.1 - 6.4 cm) long
  • 1.475 - 2.625 inches (3.5 -6.7 cm) wide

Rear Paw:

  • 1.5625 - 2.5 inches (4 - 6.4 cm) long
  • 1.1875 - 2.625 inches (3 - 6.7 cm) wide

Trail Width:

  • 5.0 - 9.5 (12.7 - 24.1 cm) wide
     

Photo By: Joe Decruyenaere (771_7181  Uploaded by pixeltoo) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Bobcat Scat

Bobcat ScatPhoto By: Kenneth Cole Schenider - Flickr

 

 Range - Distribution and Habitat of Bobcats in Canada

Bobcat Range Map of Canada

 

Bobcat Range Map of CanadaOriginal map of canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Modified By: Canada-Hunts.ca

 

The bobcat is most active at the following time periods starting three hours before sunset till about 12:00 at night and again from dawn till 3 hours after the sun comes up. Each night, it will travel 2 to 7 mi (3.2 to 11.3 km) along its habitual hunting route. This routine will vary seasonally, as bobcats become more active in the daytime during fall and winter. These seasonal changes are a natural reaction to changes in their preys’ habits that become more active during daylight hours in the winter time. Because of their hunting habits and the time at which they hunt, they are not often seen nor detected by humans.

Bobcats is very adaptable and can live in a number of different habitats including deciduous forests, coniferous bush, mixed woodlands, swamps, mountainous areas and urban fringes. The Bobcat has a large range and they are most common in the Southern portions of Canada, the Midwest United States, and the Northwest United States. Its northern range is primarily limited by snow fall conditions, in that it is not as able to travel on the snow as well as its cousin the Lynx.

Its spotted coat serves as camouflage and the population and territory of the bobcat will depend primarily on the population of its food source. 

The bobcat is solitary and territorial and confines itself to a well-defined territory. Territorial marking for this mammal is made up of covered feces on trails, as many as 6 urine scent posts per mile, and claw marks on stumps and trees. The size of its territory will vary in size depending on the gender and the distribution of available prey in the area. Females never share territory with other females but male territories, however, tend to overlap. Territory size is generally 25-30 square miles for males and about five square miles for females.

In it territory, a Bobcat may utilize a stump, hollow log, rock ledge, or brush pile as a shelter den or main den.

Main den:

The Main den is usually a cave or rock shelter, but it could be a hollow log, fallen tree, or some other protected place. (Also referred to as the natal den)

Auxiliary Dens: 

Auxiliary dens are also called a shelter den, these dens are located in the fringe areas of the cat's home range and could be a brush pile, rock ledge, hollow log, fallen tree, or tree stump.

Bobcats can be adaptable to urbanization development and may exist in areas of industrial and residential developments. (I know of a singular case where a kid picked up what he thought to be a stray kitten in a housing development and it actually was a Bobcat.)

 

Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

Bobcat

Males Females
Life Span 7 years 7 years
Shoulder Height 51 to 61 cm (20 to 24 in)
Overall Length 71 to 100 cm (28 to 39 in)
Weight 7.3 to 14 kilograms (16 to 31 lb) 9.1 kilograms (20 lb)
Weight at Birth

0.6 to 0.75 lb (270 to 340 g

Tail Length 9 to 20 cm (3.5 to 7.9 in)
Hearing Good Hearing 
Eyes

Excellent 

Dental Formula I 3/3, C 1/1, Pm 2/2, M 1/1 X 2 = 28
Body Temperature 101.5 degrees F
Track Paw - normally 4 toes show.
Can Travel 40-48 KM/hour (25 - 30 Miles per Hour)
Diet Carnivour
Sexual Maturity  9 months
Breeding Time Late winter, but throughout the year is possible.
Gestation N/A 60 days
Birthing N/A  
# in Litter N/A 1-6 Kittens
Weaning 12 Weaks
Communication flehmen response, cheek rubbing, body rubbing, claw marking, and vocalizations

 

 Lynx - Bobcat Comparison

Original Lynx Photo From: Pixabay                                     Original Bobcat Photo by: Linda Tanner - Flickr

Modified by: Canada-Hunts.ca

 

The Bobcat is a North American wild cat that can easily be mistaken for a Lynx. It has 12 recognized subspecies in North America and 4 of those are in Canada. The bobcat is common throughout the Southern portions of Canada and northern cats tend to be larger than southern bobcats. 

Canadian Subspecies

L. r. gigas (Bangs)

  • Northern New York to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

L. r. superiorensis (Peterson & Downing)

  • Western Great Lakes area, including Upper Michigan, Wisconsin, Southern Ontario, and most of Minnesota

L. r. fasciatus (Rafinesque)

  • Oregon, Washington west of the Cascade Range, northwestern California, and southwestern British Columbia

L. r. pallescens (Merriam)

  • Northwestern United States and Southern British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan

 

Bobcats obtained their name from their black tipped tail that appears to be cut. The body can most any color from a light grey, yellowish-brown, brown, buff-brown, or brownish red. In all cases, it will have a white underbelly, white on its lips, chin, black bars on its tail, black bars on its forelegs, and spots on the body.

The bobcat has pointed tufts of black fur up from the ear that can give the ear the illusion of being pointed but the ear is actually rounded. There are horizontal ruffs of fur that extend from its face below the ears to give its face a wide look.

Its nose is like that of a house cat, pinkish red in color, and its eyes are yellow or amber in color with a vertical oval pupil and is equipped for night time vision.

The Bobcat rarely lives longer than 10 years and averages 7 years of age. In the wild, there is a record of 16 years and one for 32 years of age for in captivity.

Males will weigh in at 7.3 to 14 kilograms (16 to 31 lb) and females at 9.1 kilograms (20 lb). They will have an overall length of 71 to 100centimetres(28 to 39 in) and stand at the shoulders 51 to 61centimetres(20 to 24 in). 

Additional attributes for this cat are a good sense of smell, but it relies more on it senses of sight and sound for hunting and avoiding detection. It is proficient at climbing and is able to swim long distances. 

Diet and Foraging Strategy of Bobcat

Bobcat with Dinner

 Bobcat with dinnerPhoto By: Linda Tanner - originally posted to Flickr as Bobcat With Bunny For Breakfast - Explore 7/24/10 #159, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12181536

Bobcats are strict, but generalist carnivores. What this means is that their diet is made up prey that they have caught but there is no preference nor specialty of prey in their foraging. Bobcats mostly catch and prey on small mammals like birds, reptiles, gophers, ground squirrels, rabbits and hares, foxes, minks, skunks, small dogs, domesticated cats, mice, rats and even fish. This cat should not be sold short because Bobcats have been known to hunt deer, and will opportunistically feed on a freshly killed deer.

Deer kills are largely dependent and more prevalent when the availability of smaller prey is low or when deer populations are high. A large majority of kills are fawns, but prey up to eight times the bobcat's weight can successfully be taken. When it stalks the deer it prefers to do it when the deer is bedding down. Then once in attack range, it will attack, grab the deer by the neck, and bit down on its throat at the base of the victims’ head. When a bobcat obtains a larger kill, it will gorge on the carcass, then bury it under snow, leaves, and brush to return to the kill site and reefed at a later date. Like the cougar and Lynx the Bobcat does not waste meat and will consume most of the kill.

Bobcats can be a nuisance to farmers in that they will prey on farmers’ livestock. Sheep, goats, calves, and chickens are only a few of the targets of this cat. For naturalists concerned with saving the endangered Whooping Crane the bobcat is considered the major threat to this species.  

Bobcats are exceptional hunters by using their stealth and the fact that they have retractable claws. These two attributes prevent many species (with the exception of humans) from hunting them although many bobcats do fall victim to coyotes. The bobcat has the ability to hunt animals that are larger than themselves, but they typically prey on smaller ones such as rabbits, rats, fish, foxes, and minks.

The bobcat is able to survive for long periods without food and will eat gorge heavily when prey is abundant. The bobcat does have a preference for the size of its prey and likes mammals that weight about 1.5 to 12.5 lb (0.68 to 5.67 kg). Its main prey will vary by the mammals present in its territory. Where the eastern cottontail is plentiful that is its target. In the north where the snowshoe hare is more plentiful, it will capitalize on the hare. When both of these prey species exist together, you guessed it, they are both the primary food source for the bobcat. Birds up to the size of a swan may be taken, along with their fledglings and eggs. It is safe to say that the bobcat is an opportunistic predator in that it will readily vary prey selection by availability.

Reproduction and Breeding of Bobcats

Bobcat Kittens

Bobcat kittensPhoto By: Summer M. Tribble (daughter of David R. Tribble) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bobcats mate relatively early in their life cycle. The male begins to develop its sperm in September and October and will be fertile right into the next summer. Young males will begin breeding by their second summer and females may start as early as their first year.

Mating generally occurs from winter until early spring, most mating takes place during February and March, but in reality, it can occur at any time of the year. 

A dominant male will travel with a female and mate with her several times, and it is not uncommon for both males and females to have multiple partners/mates. During this time, the pair undertakes mating rituals that are made up of chasing each other and jumping on each other. They may also let out loud screams, hisses, or other sounds during this courtship period. Copulation can occur as much as 16 times in a day and this will take place for 1 to 10 days.

Once the male recognizes that a female is receptive, he will grasp her in a felid neck grip and mates with her. Estrus for the female lasts anywhere from 5 to 10 days, and she will have an estrous cycle of 44 days, gestation once breed is 60- 70 days and bobcats will remain sexually reproductive throughout their lives.

Kittens are usually born in litter sizes of 1-6 (2-4 is the norm) around April or May and sometimes a second litter is born as late as September. The female will give birth in the natal den and will raise the young alone. The cubs are born blind and open their eyes in nine or ten days. Cubs will begin to investigate their surroundings at four weeks old and are weaned at about two months. The kittens begin eating solid food at around two months and at three to five months, they begin to travel with their mother and start to learn to hunt for themselves at 5 months. They will be hunting by themselves by fall of their first year, and when they are between 8 and 11 months, the kittens are evicted from their mother's territory.

Status of Bobcats in Canada

Bobcat

bobcat_1

Photo By: Bill W Ca at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17927312

Under the IUCN red list of threatened species, the bobcat is listed as of least concern (2016)

The bobcat is hunted for sport in British Columbia and trapped for its fur in seven of the provinces. Despite these activities current populations in Canada appear to be firmly fixed, they are abundant, and in good health.

Habitat loss is probably a larger problem than the risks to the species through over hunting and trapping. Industrialization and urban development removes Bobcat habitat but this mammal still survives at lower population densities.

Rabies, distemper, mange, and leptospirosis are a few of the diseases that can affect this cat. It should be noted here that Leptospirosis can be contracted by not only this cat but humans as well. Without proper treatment, this disease can cause kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.

Some of the common parasites for the bobcat include fleas, ticks, lice, roundworms, tapeworms, and flukes. Studies are showing that the risk of contracting a disease or parasite increases as the cat moves closer to urban developments.

A natural predator of the Bobcat appears to be the coyote and it has been noted that population densities of Bobcat are lower in areas where coyotes persist.

References

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynx
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobcat
  • http://kaycock.wikispaces.com/bobcat
  • http://lynxrufus.wikispaces.com/Population
  • http://lynxrufus.wikispaces.com/Ecology
  • http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/bobcat/
  • https://wildlife.ucsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Allen-et-al.-Bobcat-Scent-Marking-2015.pdf
  • http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Lynx+rufus
  • http://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=AMAJH03020
  • http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/bobcats.html
  • http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325974&deepNav_GID=1655
  • http://www.nationaltrappers.com/bobcat.html
  • https://wildcatconservation.org/wild-cats/north-america/bobcat/
  • http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/12521/0
  • http://www.furmanagers.com/bobcat
  • https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/

Photo Credits - Backdrop

Pixabay

  • Listing information on this website has been collected and presented as accurately as possible.
  • In case of any difference(s) between the information listed about outfitter's / resorts / guides.
  • The outfitter's website should always be taken.
  • This website should not be considered as the final say when it comes to hunting regulations.
  • Always consult the Provincial / Territorial jurisdiction that you are going to when planning your hunt.
  • Images on this site have been collected and used under Creative Commons License or are public domain images. 
  • Recipes are the work of Canada-Hunts.ca. You may reprint and distribute them for personal non commercial use. 
  • Please include Canada-Hunts.ca as your source on all copies.
  • Hunting Optics Blog information was provided by the generosity of Vortex Canada.
  • All work in that blog is their sole property and permission to reuse it should be directed to Vortex of Canada.

If you need more information use the form below and contact us.

Find the best places to hunt Walrus in Canada and discover the Walrus's Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status.

Provinces with Walrus Hunting

Nunavut Resident and Non Resident

 

Special note for

Non-Canadian Hunters

If your country does not allow the importation of walrus tusks or walrus skins.

You will not be allowed to bring your trophy back to your native home.

You are advised to review your countries import laws prior to booking a hunt. 

Selecting a Calibre to Hunt Walrus

This hunt is done a extremely close range. (25 to 35 yards.) The use of a .338 or .375 is highly recommended for this job and anything lighter than a .300 magnum will not do the job.

Vital Shot Placement for Walrus

Vital shot placement on this species is crucial. Remember that a wounded walrus will plunge into the sea where you cannot track nor follow him. This results is a lost trophy and a lost hunt. Shot placement for these reasons are recommended in the neck or in the brain. It is imperative that you get in close and drop your quarry to prevent its escape to the sea.

Range - Distribution and Habitat of the Walrus

In Canada, The Atlantic walrus inhabits the area from Bathurst and Prince of Wales islands in the west on eastward to Davis Strait. And with in that east west range it northern boundary is the Kane Basin southward to James Bay. In this area there are four well defined Walrus subpopulations.

This mammal fills a very narrow ecological slot in that it requires large areas of water with a depth of 80 m or less and a bottom that will support a population of productive aquatic molluscs. Suitable ice flows or nearby land masses on which to haul out onto are also in the formula for a successful walrus population.

Known to gather in large herds, they are more linked to hauling-out on pack ice for much of the year than the land based beach haul-outs (called an “uglit”) when ice is absent in the in summer and fall. Favoured beaches tend to have protective areas when there are strong inland winds, heavy seas, easy access to the water for feeding, and a quick escape route to the water.

Walrus distribution as of late has moved away from populated regions to areas that are less accessible by hunters. This strategy by the walrus has previously been seen in the past with each modern change that arrived. First with whaling boats in the 1920s then again with motorized boats circa 1940-1960 and they are moving further as longer range high speed boats have come on the scene.

 
 Walrus Range Map of Canada
Walrus Range Map of Canada 

Source: https://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=15533749-1&offset=7

Modified by: Canada-Hunts.ca 


South and East Hudson Bay, pop. 500

Thee South and East Hudson Bay covers an area of about 65,000 km2. We are looking at the territory from the Ottawa Islands southward to the Ekwan Point area of western James Bay. A survey was done 1955 on this herd and it was estimated to be 1000 strong. Since then there has been no extensive review of the walrus herd in this region. Current estimations are made from spot observations at different locations and in different years. Estimates put this population at 410+ in 1988 and a questionable 500 in 1995. The only recent piece of data came from the year of 2000 that states that the Inuit generally travel to the Sleeper Islands to hunt. Personally, this data is too old and too scattered to tell what the true status of this herd is.

Northern Hudson Bay - Davis Strait, pop. 4,000-6,000

This area encompasses an area of over 385,000 km2. It covers the area from Arviat on the west coast of Hudson Bay northward and eastward through the Hudson Strait on to the Clyde River on the east coast of Baffin Island. The number of walruses in 1988 was estimated to be 4,850–5,350 animals, and in 1995 it was set at 6,000 individuals. Errors in the latest estimate are to be expected as the review for the area given was not and organized for the entire area and the results were not corrected for walruses that could have been missed by the observers. These results certainly leave a degree of ambiguity but in light of no newer data it cannot be updated.

Foxe Basin, pop. 5,500

The Foxe Basin, an area of about 50,000 km2, historically it was not in the shipping routes nor whaling grounds and as a result did not see the extensive hunting that the other regions saw. The latest data puts this concentration at 5500 individuals (1989 data) and again surveys did not cover the entire area nor take into account individuals that may have been submerged.

It is thought that this congregation is isolated from the others and that there is very little migration of other groups into this one. Migrations if any are most likely to arrive by ice flows.

Baffin Bay (High Arctic), pop. 3,000

The Baffin Bay region covers an area over 150,000 km2. This area extends from the north shores of Baffin Island, westward to Bathurst Island, north to Kane Basin, and northwest to Greenland. The best guess as to the size of this herd is about 1,700- 2,000 animals and could top 3,000.

This population appears to be separated from southern Canadian walrus populations but this herd is common to Canada and Greenland.

Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus )

Walrus on Sea Ice

Walrus on Ice Flow
By Ansgar Walk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Atlantic Walrus is a large sociable marine mammal and is one of two subspecies of the family Odobenidae, the other is the Pacific Walrus. A relative of the seal and sea lion, this is the second largest Pinniped (fin-footed mammal). Its’ color is cinnamon brown although it can look pink on a warm day or white after a long dive. The thickness of its’ skin can range from 0.79” – 1.57” (2 – 4 cm) and except for its flippers, is covered by a thin layer of small coarse hairs.

Being a Pinniped, it has large front flippers that can support its body in a raised posture and smaller rear flippers similar to those of a seal. Both sets are used to help propel itself through the water, dive to depths of 260 feet (80 m), and lumber-out of the water at an Uglit.

The iconic feature of the walrus has got to be its long tusks (teeth) that both males and females develop. Males will develop thicker tusks that can attain a length of 3 ft., while those of a female will be about 2.5 ft and thinner in diameter. In both cases, the tusk is used for defending itself from predators, keeping breathing holes in the ice open, hauling-out, and establishing dominance during the mating season.

Above those tusks you will find a moustache made up of 600 to 700 course whiskers. These whiskers are used to detect shellfish on the ocean floor and to aid in the collection of shellfish. It has a thick upper lip with which is sucks up the shellfish and cracks them open by creating a vacuum with its tounge.  

The walrus does not have external ears, what it has is a small hole or fold in the skin about 8 inches behind its eye. Its skull is wide and robust enough to use as a battering ram for breaking through overhead frozen ice up to 8 inches thick.

A special adaptation for this species comes in the form of two air pouches in its throat. By inflating them, the walrus is able to provide itself a life preserver with which it can easily float with its head above water. This system works so well that they are able to sleep in open water. This sack is also used during mating season to make bell-like sounds.

Walruses can survive the cold and ice of the arctic by reducing heat losses during extreme cold conditions through constriction of blood flow to its extremities. Armed with 6 inches of blubber they are able to stay out and sleep on the ice at temperatures to –31°C even if a heavy wind is blowing.

The walrus has a very bulky body and with all of that mass and blubber, adult males can weigh up to 2,425 lbs (1,100 kg) and attain a length of 10 ft (3.1 m). While females will only weigh 1,763 lbs. (800 kg) and have an overall length of 9 ft. (2.8 m.).

During the non-breeding seasons, it will haul-out on beach heads and ice flows in large segregated herds comprising of  only males or females. There can be a lot of aggression in these herds and it appears that the larger the walrus the more aggressive it will be. They try to establish a hierarchy of dominance through their threatening displays.

Migration of walruses occurs on the moving sea ice and in general this migration is in a northerly direction in the summer and in a southern direction in the winter.

In search of food it spends most of its time out at sea, but because they feed in relatively shallow waters 65 – 98 ft. (20-30M). They don’t stray far from shore.

Diet and Foraging Strategy of the Walrus

Walrus Underwater

Walrus Swimming
Photo from: Pixabay

Male and female walruses have comparable diets but the females have a more proficient digestion system. The diet of walruses that are less than three years of age is made up of mostly milk.

Their diet is varied and opportunist in nature. They will feed on bottom dwelling (or benthic) marine organisms, including shrimp, crabs, tube worms, soft corals, tunicates, sea cucumbers, and various mollusks. They will also take fish, ringed seals, bearded seals, seabirds, , prey on ice-trapped narwhals, scavenge whale carcasses and some large bulls will eat young walruses.

The food of choice is the bottom-dwelling organisms such as clams and sea urchins. To forage for clams it does so by moving along the sea bottom, searching for clams with their whiskers, sweeping away the bottom debris with their flippers or uncovering them with their snout once one is found.

The walrus extracts the meat out of the shellfish by placing the shellfish between its lips, tongue, and roof of its mouth. The roof of the walruses’ mouth has a unique arch. Using the seal between its lips and by quickly drawing down its tongue it creates a vacuum that opens the shellfish.

The walrus will average 24 min per dive and will consume 55 lbs. (25 kg) of clams a day. This foraging activity has a benefit to the benthic community in that it disturbs the sea floor. This disturbance releases nutrients into the water, stirs up the organisms and encourages the movement of many organisms.

Often with the aid of floating sea ice, walruses visit the shallow shelves of the ocean in order to forage on the sea floor. The walrus may stay out for as long as 56 hours in the water before hauling-out again. They usually only dive an average of 65 – 98 ft (20 – 30 m) deep which is not much for a mammal that has been satellite tracked to dive 590 ft (180 m.).

Breeding and Reproduction of the Walrus

Cow and Calf Walrus 

Walrus Cow and Calf
Photo By Ansgar Walk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The age of sexual maturity for a bull walrus arrives somewhere between 7 and 13 years old but may not mate until it is large enough to compete for a harem of his own at 15 years of age. The females’ first ovulation will occur in the range of 5 to 10 years of age and she will calve every three years thereafter. The females will have a reduction in propagation rates once they reach the ages of 16-18.

The female walrus has more than one estrous cycle per year and comes into heat in late summer and around February. However, the bulls are only fertile around February. So, it is not surprising to see that mating occurs from February to April.  The bulls accumulate in the water around ice-bound groups of estrous cows. They then generate a sonnet of bell like tones from the sack in their neck. Receptive cows will join them and the pair will copulate in the water. During this period, there is a drastic decrease of food intake and the competition for cows by bulls is aggressive.  Bulls try to collect harems of receptive cows and will defend access to them for up to five days. The males will mate with as many cows as he can but the cow will only mate with one bull and her likely choice to mate with will be the male that was attending the herd when she became receptive.  

There is a delay before the cow’s embryo is actually implanted to the wall of its uterus in late June or early July. Gestation for the embryo lasts about 11 months in order to produce a single calf in May or June. The pregnant females will haul-out on to the northward moving ice pack.  Calves are born weighing 99 to 165 lb (45 to 75 kg), are about 4 ft (1.2 m) in length, no tusks, have a moustache, are silver grey in color, and are able to swim with their mother within minutes of birth.

The calf will soon loose it silvery coat and it will be replaced by a short coat of brown hair. Female walruses produce a very rich milk that contains about 30% fat and a high amount of protein. Nursing mothers take their calves with them while foraging for food and will nurse the calf at sea. The calf nurse and stay in the mother’s protective care for the next 24 to 27 months and calves may stay with their mother for up to 5 years. Additional protection for the calf is found in the confines of the herd and high calf survival rates are attained when compared to other pinnipeds. This is good news as the walrus has a low reproductive rate at only 10% per year. Naturally over-hunting and environment changes will have a drastic effect on that rate of reproduction.

Some walruses may live to 35 years of age but the real expectancy is about 20–30 years. 

 

Status of the Walrus in Canada

Walrus Hunting in the Old days.

Walrus hunting in the old days
Photo By Beverly B. Dobbs, National Geographic [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The walrus is listed by COSEWIC as an animal of Special Concern (April 2006). This mammal is considered a keystone species in the Arctic marine ecosystem. Hunting in some parts of the walrus territory was carried on large scale commercial basis in the 17th and 18th centuries and in the case of the Maritime population, they wiped it out.

Walrus Protection Regulations in 1928 were created to protect the walrus in Canadian Waters from commercial and sport-hunting, however, limited hunting by the Inuit people was allowed to continue. Since that time the hunting by non-aboriginal people had been banned until 1995 when non-resident, non-aboriginal hunts were allowed in Nunavut, if those hunts were arranged and guided under the auspices of the Inuit people.

The Government of Canada, Species at Risk Public Registry states. “Hunting is also the most important current threat to the four populations that still exist.”  This citation mentions poor and wasteful hunting techniques. The walrus also appears to be quite sensitive to decomposing animal flesh from hunting remains that have been discarded at the uglit. The tainting of the haul-out and feeding grounds causes the herd to leave the area.

Noises and disturbances are on the list as causes of injury and mortality for the walrus. This threat is from passing boats, ships, and aircraft that cause the walrus herd to stampede. The reaction is for the herd is to rush back into the water and in the process the herd tramples calves, walruses that are sick, and cows may abort foetuses in the process. If the noises and disturbance persist over time the herd may actually abandon the Ujlit. This is especially true if the human presence had a traumatic effect on the herd.  Ujlit abandonment factors in addition to noise disturbances include the smell of humans, dogs etc.

Natural predators of the walrus come from two sources, the KiIler (Orca) whale (Oreinus orea) and polar bears (Ursus maritimus). The polar bear has two clear methods in which it hunts the walrus. The first and most effective way is for it to find a walrus that has been frozen out of its breathing hole and then to stalk it. Rough sea ice will aid the Polar Bear in its deception and lay a last minute charge on the walrus once it is close enough. The size of the walrus has a big bearing on this method as it is only effective on younger walruses because a full grown walrus with its long tusks and aggressive mass is more than a match for a Polar Bear.

The second method used by the Polar Bear is to rush an Ujlit in hopes that the herd will rush into the sea and trample some in the process. It is typically young calves, wounded individuals, and sick walruses that are left behind. Again any full grown wounded walrus is a formidable opponent to handle and a direct attack is not a wise move for the bear. Predation by Polar Bears, are cited to at their highest in the late winter and early spring.

Killer whales hunting and killing a walrus in not a common event. The killer whale pod, when at sea, will attempt to separate an individual walrus and then try to subdue it by hitting it with its tail. The second method is to rush into shore and grab a younger walrus that has ventured too close to the shoreline. Unbelievably the whale does not have a high success rate at either method but none the less these interactions occur in the spring, summer, and fall.

The effects and impact that diseases have on the walrus is not understood.   

The susceptibility of walruses to disease is not well understood. There is evidence that a bacterium called Brucella sp., which can cause reproductive failure, is present in some marine mammals.  Morbillivirus antibodies are frequent in the eastern Canadian Arctic population indicating some risk to the phocine distemper virus (PDV) or a related virus is present. 

A health warning to humans is that the walruses is often infected with the helmith parasite Trichinella. This can cause trichinellosis (or trichinosis) in humans who are eating uncooked walrus meat.

A second heath warning is that you should not eat the liver of a walrus as it contains toxic amounts of Vitamin A.

 

Climate change is cited as an issue of concern for almost every animal on this plant but because the walrus will use land based haul-outs and for that reason climate change NOT cited as a issue. A drop in population densities may occur, but the species should remain intact. What may be a greater influence on walrus survival from climate change and the ice pack receding may a drop in population of clam populations.

Conclusion, the latest information on the walrus is 22 years old and at that it is based on observations by untrained people over long periods of time and possibly great distances in the sightings. For this author, speculation is my key word. My speculative opinion is that if hunting is truly the main concern for the walrus survival and not disturbances, contanimants, climate change, nor natural predation. Then the survival of the walrus has for the 90 years had the best protection that we can give it and survival still sits firmly on the shoulders of the aboriginal people who need to possibly show better management efforts.

 

References

  • http://www.cosewic.gc.ca/eng/sct1/searchdetail_e.cfm?id=915
  •  http://septentrio.uit.no/index.php/NAMMCOSP/article/view/2855
  •  http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/walruses.html
  •  http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/species/profiles/mammals/walrus/
  •  http://www.brage.bibsys.no/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11250/173046/Meddelelser
  •  http://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~rwest/link-suggestion/wpcd_2008-09_augmented/wp/w/Walrus.htm
  • http://www.Department of Fisheries and Oceans-mpo.gc.ca/csas/Csas/status/2002/SSR2002_E5-17,18,19,20e.pdf
  • https://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr_atlantic_walrus_e.pdf
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walrus
  • http://www.Department of Fisheries and Oceans-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/profiles-profils/walrus-morse-eng.html
  • http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/csas/Csas/status/2002/SSR2002_E5-17,18,19,20e.pdf

Photo Credits - Background

Polar Cruises - Flickr

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