Wolves of the Whiteshell: Part iii

Photos & writeup submitted by Josh Dewitt.

Back on Thanksgiving Day, 2013, a friend and I were hiking the McGillivray Falls trail. It was getting late, so we figured we’d start heading back to Winnipeg. After about 5 minutes of driving, a big animal ran in front of my car. At first I thought it was just a white-tailed deer, but as it ran across the ditch, I saw its tail. I slammed on the brakes. I slowly got out of the car, and there it was, sitting on the other side of the ditch. He stayed around for at least 10 minutes, sniffing the ground, and wandering back and forth. He allowed many good pictures.

We were ecstatic! This is the first wolf sighting we’ve had in the park, they’ve eluded us for years. I myself have heard packs howling at Otter Falls, Big Whiteshell, and have found fresh tracks along the Pine Point Rapids trail several times.

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Wildlife of the Month Part I: Foxes

The fox is Experience the Whiteshell’s Wildlife of the Month for March. Foxes are a common siting in the Whiteshell, and during the winter they look gorgeous with their big fur coats and bushy tails. While most of the foxes in the Whiteshell are red, on occasion you can see silver and black foxes trotting around. Females foxes will be having their litters anytime between now and May, and a litter can be anywhere between one to ten pups. The average lifespan of a red fox is anywhere between three to six years, according to Canadian Geographic. Here are a few photos I have taken of a fox hanging out at our cottage on Star Lake. This guy likes to pose for the camera on the front deck and curl up in the snow and soak up the winter sunshine. He is about half this size in the summer without that thick winter coat.

Writeup & photos by Marney Blunt, Experience the Whiteshell editor. IMG_1005 copyIMG_1009 copyIMG_1008 copyIMG_1014 copyIMG_1023 copyIMG_1024 copy

Wildlife of the Month: Bobcat

Bobcats are a rare sight, but it seems that recently they’ve been spotted more often in the Whiteshell. In fact they’ve even been making the news. Sadly, an injured bobcat was found in Falcon Lake in mid-January and was taken to the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg to undergo surgery. The good news is the young female bobcat is making a recovery and is expected to be released into nature again. The Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre has been accepting donations to cover the cost of the surgery.

Here’s a few great photos of a bobcat (not the injured bobcat) in the Whiteshell that have been captured by wildlife photographer Anne Klassen:

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The Wolves of the Whiteshell: Part II

Photos and writeup by Marney Blunt.

I have always loved wolves. Their eerie howls, massive paw prints in the snow, and remainders of their deer kills on the lake are absolutely fascinating. In my opinion, they are the coolest wildlife that anyone could see or hear in the Whiteshell. While extremely aloof, on occasion you can be lucky enough to see them, and in winter 2011 I was lucky enough to have a camera available too. These photos were taken on Star Lake during that winter. A pack of ten wolves came across the lake from a bay in the northeast corner of the lake, right beside our cottage. They hung out on the ice in front of our cottage for awhile, providing the perfect photo opportunity. Some of them were even play fighting! Eventually they moved off into the woods on the left side of the lake, towards the old logging trail behind Star Lake. About 15 minutes later another lone wolf came from the same direction and trotted across the lake, as if it was hoping to catch up to the others.

IMG_0912_2 copy IMG_0914 copy IMG_0915 copy IMG_0918_2 copy IMG_0923 copyThese photos were taken on Star Lake later that same winter. Two wolves were just hanging out by the snowmobile for awhile before noticing us and taking off.
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The Wolves of the Whiteshell: Part I

Timber wolves are possibly the most elusive, beautiful, and mysterious wildlife in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. Wolves in the Whiteshell are a rare sight, although the amount of tracks in the winter are a strong reminder that they are around in good numbers. You are far more likely to see wolves in the winter as they cross the frozen lakes in search of a deer making its way through the deep snow. Occasionally you can hear their eerie howls in the wind, a beautiful yet haunting sound that can send chills down your back.

The wolves of the Whiteshell are the January ‘Wildlife of the Month’. Check back for several other ‘Wolves of the Whiteshell’ posts throughout the winter.

Have you captured the wolves of the Whiteshell on your camera lens? Be sure to send them to whiteshell.lakes@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on Experience the Whiteshell.

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14 Reasons Why Winter Rules in the Whiteshell

So the snow is here, the temperatures are dropping, winter has begun. If you live in Manitoba, a bad case of the wintertime blues may be setting in.

Well, it’s time to bundle up and embrace the climate. Honestly, winter can be fun! Especially if you take a quick drive out to the Whiteshell on the weekends. Here’s 14 reasons why winter rules in the Whiteshell. Give them a try, it might just change the way you feel about Manitoba winters:

IMG_18471 – Walking in a Whiteshell wonderland – As proved in the past few weeks, winters in the Whiteshell are breathtaking. Frozen snowed-covered lakes and tall pine and spruce trees decorated with a dusting of snow and hoar frost – The Whiteshell in the winter is a dream. Take a break from the slushy-salted streets of the city and you’ll see!

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2 – Cross-country skiing – There’s no better way to stay in shape than cross-country skiing, and in the Whiteshell scenery really beats staring at a TV screen in the gym. Cross-country skiing is a great full body workout and easy on the joints. The Whiteshell is full of beautiful groomed ski trails including the South Whiteshell trail, and come check out the new section connecting High Lake to the Falcon townsite along the south shore of the lake. The Falcon Ridge Ski Hill is a great facility and has a beautiful network of trails as well. Whether you prefer hill climbs and downhills or a flat trail across the lake – The Whiteshell has got them all.

IMG_10013 – Snowmobiling – The Whiteshell also has some of the most beautiful groomed snowmobile trails in Manitoba. The Whiteshell has a large network of groomed snowmobile trails that run from lake-to-lake. The Whiteshell Snowmobile Club has erected and maintained warm up shelters along many of the main trails, so even  out in the wilderness you’re never far from a warm fire.

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4 – Ice fishing – Northern pike, walleyes, crappies, lake trout, and dozens of stocked trout lakes – The Whiteshell has some of the best fishing in the province, both from the boat and through the ice. There’s nothing like spending a day on the lake enjoying the scenery, catching dinner, or watching the graphs to see the master anglers following your bait up to the surface. Every March is the annual Falcon Lake Winter Fish Off, an all-species fishing tournament that awards over $40,000 in cash and prizes and $10,000 to the heaviest fish.

IMG_18105 –  Falcon Ridge Ski Hill – Down-hill, cross-country, snowboarding, biathlon, or tubing; over on the far side of Falcon Lake is a happening place known as Falcon Ridge Ski Hill. Falcon Ridge has several groomed runs for both beginners, intermediates, and even a park with rails, boxes, and jumps. The ski hill also has a network of beautiful groomed-ski trails, a biathlon course, and downhill tubing. The chalet at Falcon Ridge is a great hangout with great food and drink and a talented live music act every Sunday throughout the winter. The ski hill will also be hosting Snowdance Festival of Music and Winter on January 18 and 19.

IMG_25976 – Biathlon – There’s not too many places in Manitoba where you can check out biathlon, and Falcon Lake is one of them. Come watch the biathlon races held at Falcon Ridge or take the opportunity to get involved with Biathlon Manitoba. Race ates include the Manitoba Cup Races [Cup #1, Dec. 14th + 15th (snow dependent)], [Cup #2, January 11th + 12th], [Cup #3 & 4, Feb. 15th + 16th], Biathlon Provincial Championships on February 22nd & 23rd, Cadet Biathlon Provincials on Feb. 1st & 2nd, and Masters Cross Country Ski Race on Feb. 8th. Also, biathlon at Falcon Lake produced a Olympian – Who just qualified for the Sochi 2014 Olympics!

7 – Beaver Days – Probably the biggest community event in the Whiteshell during the winter, and this year February 7 – 9 will mark the 40th anniversary of Beaver Days. The event includes a snowmobile poker derby, a sponge hockey tournament, a Texas holdem tournament, several kids activities, and much more. Stay tuned for details from Experience the Whiteshell.

8 – Curling – The Whiteshell curling club has a great league that runs through the winter. Weekly draws are going on already and the bar is open if you’d like to come watch. The club also hosts a bonspiel in the spring – enter a team and enjoy a weekend at the lake at the same time.

9- The new outdoor hockey rink – The Whiteshell Community Club now has a beautiful new outdoor hockey rink, recently redone by a group of dedicated locals. The ice is great and available to all members of the Whiteshell Community Club.

1469830_10152078513746810_78396146_n10 – Whiteshell Hockey League – What’s a new skating rink without a new hockey league? The Whiteshell Hockey League is kicking off  with an opening tournament on December 6 and 8 at the Community Club. Games will be going on every Wednesday evening throughout the winter with playoffs February 28 to March 2.

11- Snow shoeing – Big open lakes and back-county trails in the Whiteshell are a great place for snow shoeing. Come experience some true wilderness by floating across the deep snow on your snowshoes.

12 – Sleigh rides at Falcon Beach Ranch – Taking a scenic drive on a horse-drawn sleigh? Nothing says winter wonderland more than that. Contact Falcon Beach Ranch to setup a sleigh ride.

IMG_0918_213 – Wildlife – Wolves running across the frozen lake, white-tailed deer lightly stepping through the deep snow, a great grey owl perched on top of a pine tree – There are always some fantastic wildlife sightings in the Whiteshell. The frozen lakes make it easier for wildlife to travel around through the park, making it far more likely for you to see wildlife that you wouldn’t normally see at other times of the year.

IMG_184414 – Serenity – There’s nothing more peaceful than curling up by the fire in a cozy cabin and watching the snowflakes fall. Don’t have your own cabin? No problem – The Whiteshell has lots of beautiful cabins that are available to rent year round.

Stay tuned for more details on these activities and events throughout the winter.

Photos by Emily Christie & Marney Blunt.

Wildlife of the Month: White-tailed Deer (Part I)

Whether it’s grazing does, spotted fawns, or a massive buck, white-tailed deer are the most commonly sited animal in the Whiteshell and they’re also the November Animal of the Month. November is rutting season, so right now large bucks are feverishly searching for a mate. Take a look at  Part I of the Wildlife of the Month photo series, including some adorable spring-time fawn photos, captured by wildlife photographer Anne Klassen:

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Wildlife of the Month: Black Bears (Part I)

You don’t see them everyday, but black bears are often sighted in the Whiteshell rummaging around for berries, scaling up trees, and, on occasion, swimming over to an island. These large animals are an important part of the ecosystem in the Whiteshell or, as wildlife photographer Anne Klassen likes to refer to them as, the ‘farmers of the forest’. They also happen to be Klassen’s favourite animal to photograph. Black bears will spend most of their waking hours in search of food before their hibernation time, which is usually in mid-October. Since these animals will soon be going into hibernation for the next six months (approximately), Experience the Whiteshell is featuring black bears as the October Wildlife of the Month. Take a last glimpse at these beautiful and powerful animals in a series of photographs captured by Anne Klassen, before they hit the snooze button for the winter.
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Please remember to always be bear smart in the Whiteshell: Never leave garbage around and never approach or feed the bears.