In the city of Saskatoon, the George Genereux Urban Regional Park and the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area are great places to learn and experience nature education. The semi wilderness habitat makes great homes for animals. What do visitors of the afforestation areas need to know when visiting the homes of these residents?
Why do deer and moose appreciate the George Genereux Urban Regional Park and the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area in Saskatoon?
An animal that feeds on plants is referred to as an herbivore. There are many different kinds of herbivorous mammals which frequent the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional Park. The White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and Moose (Alces alces) are among the herbivourous mammals of the afforestation areas.
How are these two deers recognized? Mule deer have larger ears than the White-tailed deer, however, that feature may only help with binoculars. There is another way to make identification.
When alarmed, a mule deer will run with a bounce referred to as stotting (also called pronking or pronging). The deer literally springs into the air, lifting all four feet off the ground simultaneously.
A white-tailed deer, will show, or flash its white tail when alarmed. This alarm response is called “Tail flare” which is used by all deer, though more visible to humans for the white-tailed deer species. The flashing tail alerts all of the herd to danger. The flashing tail held up while the herd is fleeing is a very easy target for the fawns to follow through forest thickets and heavy brush so it does not get lost.
A moose is recognized by its distinctive shape with features such as its larger size, a hump on its back and the rounded nose which make it easy to distinguish a moose from a deer. The horns on a bull moose are very distinct from the horns of a deer stag. A baby moose is a calf, a male moose is called a bull, a female moose is called a cow. A male deer is called stag or buck, a female deer is called doe or hind, and a young deer is called fawn, kid or calf.
Deer and moose are digrastic animals, which means that they have a unique pair of muscles under their jaw which act to open and close their mouth. One unique thing about all deer species, is that there is a lack of teeth in their front upper jaw. When looking in the habitat for evidence of deer or moose, search for a ragged edge on twigs which show signs of damage. Be aware of the height of the twigs off the ground, and the time of the year when you think these animals may be browsing on trees.
Another way to identify a habitat in which deer or moose call their home is to be aware of their droppings or “Scat.” During the summer months, a moose may leave piles which resemble cow droppings. In the winter a moose the scat changes to long round pellets larger than those of a deer or a rabbit. Deer usually have piles of black to dark brown pellets. If the animals are near a good water source, their scat may clump. Deer pellets are about the size of chocolate covered raisins. Rabbit scat is smaller, and very round, Moose scat is larger, elongated and bigger than chocolate covered almonds.
To help in the identification of wildlife in George Genereux Urban Regional Park and the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, also look for tracks (footprints) in the soil, or in the snow. Freshly fallen snow, makes it easy to see animal tracks. Moose have cloven hooves longer than 18 centimetres (7 inches). Cloven means split or divided in two. Deers also have split hooves, though the tracks are much smaller. A deer track is 4 – 7.5 cm (1-1/2 to 3 inches) in length. Deers are also much smaller in mass, so the depression in the soil or snow is lighter than the deep depression made by a heavy moose.
Which are human, deer and rabbit tracks in the above images?
Moose are solitary animals, but White-tailed deers live together in herds. There are two types of herds for the White-tailed deer community. The does and fawns herd together, and the bucks herd together, except during the mating season. Mule deers will come together as a united herd, males and females until spring. In the spring, Mule deer adopt behaviors similar to the herding patterns of White-tailed deer. The does and fawns will stay together to seek protective habitats, and males will take the risk of being in sight of predators, and search out rich, abundant food sources.
If you see long grasses flattened, or a depression in the fresh snow, which are about 1.2 meters (four feet) in diameter, then that is likely where a moose may have lain down to rest. Deers also spend 70% of their time lying down.
These animals ~deer and moose~ are also referred to as ruminants. Ruminants are mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally through microbial actions. The process, which takes place in the front part of the digestive system and therefore is called foregut fermentation, typically requires the fermented ingesta (known as cud) to be regurgitated and chewed again. The process of rechewing the cud to further break down plant matter and stimulate digestion is called rumination. These animals gather their food quickly, and later find a place to rest safe from predators. It is when they are in their safe place that they can regurgitate their food and re-chew it fully.
The Trembling Aspen is the preferred food of deer, though they will search out the “Balm of Gilead” from the Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera). Balm of Gilead is made from the resinous gum of the Balsam Poplar. Deer will only resort to eating the buds of the Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens) if they are starving, and in desperate circumstances.
The diet of the deers does vary. When foliage is green during the late spring and summer, deers will turn to eating grasses, sedges, winter cereals and other forbs. A forb is a flowering plant other than a grass. Crops, leaves, tender twigs, and buds are also mainstays. As the seasons change, deers will turn to cut alfalfa hay fields in the autumn. Deers rely almost exclusively on twigs and buds throughout the winter, and into early spring choosing Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides), Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea), Willow (Salix; L.), Western Snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis), and Prickly Rose (Rosa acicularis).
Just as the deer diet varies through the seasons, so too does the diet of the moose. Summer provides catkins, leaves, tall grasses bark, pine cones, twigs and buds of trees and shrubs. Winter food is much harder to forage (forage means to search widely for food). Moose will resort to willow bushes and woody plants.
Fawns are born between the middle of May to the end of June. Deers will leave their fawns alone in order to feed. However, the doe is usually within 90 meters of where she leaves her fawn. If the doe leaves the fawn by itself, if there are any predators in the area, the predators follow the scent of the doe, and the chances of survival for the fawn increases. The doe knows there is little chance that predators will find her fawn, because she attends to the grooming of her fawn which means that there is little scent on her little fawn. The doe returns at sunrise or sunset to check on their offspring. The doe will make the decision to move her fawn, or feed them at that site. Usually the fawn is left concealed in a thicket of tall grass.
Moose calves are also born in the spring. A calf can walk from the first day that they are born, and they stay with the cow for their first year. The mating season of the moose takes place in September and October, during these months moose may become more aggressive. However, generally speaking, Moose are docile towards humans. Moose have a better sense of hearing and sense of smell than humans, and a poorer sense of sight. Never approach a moose, but observe from a safe distance.
Deers require trees and shrubs for protection, as the open prairie does not afford them shelter from the elements nor do the prairie grasslands provide enough cover to hide from their predators.
Questions to ponder
What is the most interesting thing about deers? About moose?
When walking through the George Genereux Urban Regional Park and the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is it easy or hard to find out if deer or moose are there? Is it easier in the summer or the winter months? Why or why not?
What should humans do if they found a fawn in the George Genereux Urban Regional Park or the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? Is it important to let others know about animal behaviour and habitats? Why?
What do moose and deer like the best about the George Genereux Urban Regional Park and the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Areas? Why?
What do you know about the mating season of deer and moose? Would you want to meet a deer or a moose during mating season? Why or why not?
If you compare your diet to the diet of the deer and moose, what benefits do deer and moose derive from the wetlands?
Do humans chew their cud like a deer or moose? Why or why not?
Are Moose calves, or Deer fawns larger?
What impact to domesticated dogs have on the habitat of deers and moose? What impact does the addition of the human footprint in an eco-system have on the habitat of deers and moose?
What is the difference between the antlers of a bull moose and a deer buck?
Would you sight a deer or a moose in a tree? Would a deer or moose burrow into the ground? Would living underwater in the wetlands be a suitable habitat for deer or moose? Why or why not?
If you were to create a woodland mammal what would it look like? What would your animal eat? Why?
Saskatchewan Curriculum Study
Kindergarden LTK.1, MOK.1
Grade One LT1.1
Grade Two AN 2.1, AN2.2, AN2.3
Additionally, field tours are presented at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and at George Genereux Urban Regional Park
Free Printed Resources are available during field tours.
Baby Deer, The Wildlife Center of Virginia, retrieved 2019-05-17
Bradford, Alina (November 13, 2014). “Moose: Facts About the Largest Deer”. https://www.livescience.com/27408-moose.html. Live Science.
Bryson, Jennifer (2015). “Scat Identification. A Visual Aid to Scat Identification” (PDF). Think Trees. Manitoba Envirothon. Retrieved November 29, 2008.
Chaney Chaney, Professor of Tree Physiology, William R. (8/2003), Why Do Animals Eat the Bark and Wood of Trees and Shrubs? (PDF), Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, retrieved 2019-05-17
Curtis, Paul D; Sullivan, Kristi L. (2001), White-Tailed Deer (PDF), Wildlife Damage Management Fact Sheet Series Cornell Cooperative Extension Cornell Cooperative Extension, by Cornell University, retrieved 2019-05-17
DEER! – Don’t touch that baby!, Deer-Forest Study The Pennsylvania State University, May 5, 2015, retrieved 2019-05-17
Egbert, Rathiha (July 3, 2006). “Moose tracks Largest of the deer family, Alces alces is a surprisingly tricky ungulate to track”. Canadian Geographic. Canadian Geographic Enterprises. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
A Field Guide to Whitetail Communication – Whitetails Unlimited (PDF), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Whitetails Unlimited, Inc, 2006, retrieved 2019-05-17
Forest Foods Deer Eat, Department of Natural Resources Michigan, 2019, retrieved 2019-05-17
Geist, Valerius (2019). “Mule deer mammal”. https://www.britannica.com/animal/mule-deer. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
How do deer survive winter eating twigs?, Naturally North Idaho, December 19, 2014, retrieved 2019-05-17
“Identifying Brown or Black Droppings”. http://icwdm.org/Inspection/BlackBrownDroppings.aspx. Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. 2015.
“Moose Facts for Kids”. http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natmap/facts/moose_k6.html. Washington NatureMapping Animal Facts for Kids.
Pasture and Forage for White-Tailed Deer, Government of Saskatchewan Business >> Agriculture Natural Resources and Industry >> Agribusiness Farmers and Ranchers>> Elk and Deer, retrieved 2019-05-17
Recognising types of mammal damage to trees and woodland, Forest Research UK Government, 2019, retrieved 2019-05-17
Vikki, Simons-Krupp, Understanding Deer, Santa Cruz CA Native Animal Rescue, retrieved 2019-05-17
Wilderness Dave (November 29, 2008). “Moose Scientific Name: Alces alces”. http://www.wildernessclassroom.com/wilderness-library/moose/. Wilderness Classroom.
Wilderness Dave. “White-Tailed Deer”. http://www.wildernessclassroom.com/wilderness-library/white-tailed-deer/. Wilderness Classroom.
For more information:
P4G Saskatoon North Partnership for Growth The P4G consists of the Cities of Saskatoon, Warman, and Martensville, the Town of Osler and the Rural Municipality of Corman Park; planning for areas around the afforestation area and West Swale outside of Saskatoon city limits
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city. 52° 06′ 106° 45′
Part SE 23-36-6 – Afforestation Area – 241 Township Road 362-A
Part SE 23-36-6 – SW Off-Leash Recreation Area (Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area ) – 355 Township Road 362-A
S ½ 22-36-6 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (West of SW OLRA) – 467 Township Road 362-A
NE 21-36-6 “George Genereux” Afforestation Area – 133 Range Road 3063
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Where is the George Genereux Urban Regional Park (Afforestation Area)? with map
Should you wish to help protect / enhance the afforestation areas, please contact the City of Saskatoon, Corporate Revenue Division, 222 3rd Ave N, Saskatoon, SK S7K 0J5…to support the afforestation area with your donation please state that your donation should support the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, or the George Genereux Urban Regional Park, or both afforestation areas located in the Blairmore Sector. Please and thank you! Your donation is greatly appreciated.
“ “We forget that we owe our existence to the presence of Trees. As far as forest cover goes, we have never been in such a vulnerable position as we are today. The only answer is to plant more Trees – to Plant Trees for Our Lives.” ~ Richard St. Barbe Baker.
“The science of forestry arose from the recognition of a universal need. It embodies the spirit of service to mankind in attempting to provide a means of supplying forever a necessity of life and, in addition, ministering to man’s aesthetic tastes and recreational interests. Besides, the spiritual side of human nature needs the refreshing inspiration which comes from trees and woodlands. If a nation saves its trees, the trees will save the nation. And nations as well as tribes may be brought together in this great movement, based on the ideal of beautifying the world by the cultivation of one of God’s loveliest creatures – the tree.” ~ Richard St. Barbe Baker.
“I believed that God has lent us the Earth. It belongs as much to those who come after us as to us, and it ill behooves us by anything we do or neglect, to deprive them of benefits which are in our power to bequeath.” Richard St. Barbe Baker