Unusual weather conditions in Canada’s northwestern Yukon territory are adding up to problems for wildlife.
Biologist Matt Clarke says a sharp hard crust of ice has formed on top of the snow. It could injure moose and caribou and make it tougher for the animals to forage.
“They walk around and the sharp crust on the snow is cutting their legs up but it also makes for easy travel for wolves, they can run around on top and really pursue their prey a lot easier.”
Clarke says caribou and moose are congregating in the valleys often near roads and he’s warning motorists to beware.
The unusual weather could also affect much smaller animals such as mice, voles and even grouse.
Clarke says the recent warm weather “has really changed the condition of the snow” and reduced its value as an insulator.
“It is more granular which allows the cold to really penetrate. There are animals that live under the snow all winter long and rely on that insulation to avoid freezing,” he says.
In Yukon this winter, a heavy snowfall in December was followed by record breaking warm temperatures.
Canada: Arctic rain threatens baby falcons, CBC News
Finland: Rains force bears out of hibernation in Finland, Yle News
Sweden: Heavy rain causes flooding in North Sweden, Radio Sweden
United States: Weather takes a toll on wildlife, environment in Alaska, Alaska Dispatch