Fawning Season

Fawning season is well underway for BC’s two native deer species. Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are found across most of BC except for the extreme North. White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are found in BC’s Southern Interior, Central BC and sections of the northeast. Both have one or two and rarely three fawns in late-May or June. For the first few months the fawns are light tan with white spots. These spots are thought to help camouflage them when their mothers leave them to go off feeding. The mothers do this regularly as the young slow them down and hinder them while they try to gain the nutrition needed for nursing. The fawns are weaned by the end of summer but start to consume vegetation before then. BC’s other cervids (members of the greater deer family) are also raising young at this time; Elk (Cervus canadensis), Moose (Alces alces) and Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) cows are raising their calves in many places across the province.

 

Common Garter Snake

The Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) is one of nine snake species and one of three garter snakes (the others being the Western Terrestrial and Northwestern Garter Snake) found in BC. It has the largest range of any snake in BC and is found across the entire province except the extreme north and Haida Gwaii. They are found in many different habitats but are most common near marshes, ponds, riparian areas and meadows. Garter snakes can sometimes be hard to distinguish from each other but the Common Garter Snake is usually black with three yellowish stripes running from the back of the head to the tail and has red spots running down the body. They give birth to live young in the spring and hibernate over winter in communal dens, sometimes with other snake species. They are strong swimmers and can be seen hunting or lounging in the water.

Harbour Seal

The Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina) is a one of the two true seals (earless members of the family Phocidae) found in British Columbia, the other being the much less common Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris). Harbour seals are very common in coastal areas and have been increasing in numbers steadily for many years. They feed primarily on fish and spend much of their day lounging on rocks. They can be viewed even in the waters surrounding larger cities like Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. They will sometimes follow fish into fresh water and have been seen in rivers such as the Fraser, Skeena and Squamish.

American Bullfrog

The American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) was introduced to British Columbia in the early 1900s when it was brought from eastern North America for frog farming. The farming did not go well, as there was not a big market for frogs legs, and they were either released or escaped into the wild. They are the largest frog in North America and a highly invasive species. They consume native frogs and other amphibians as well as birds, fish and invertebrates and can cause the local extinction of native species. In the spring and summer males form large breeding groups and sit in the water, inflating themselves and calling for females. They are found in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, south and central Vancouver Island and are currently expanding their range to places including the south Okanagan.


North American Beaver

The North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) is found across much of British Columbia. They live in lakes, ponds, marshes, wetlands and rivers. Beavers are known as a keystone species; a species that influences the rest of its ecosystem often to the benefit of some other species. Some ecologists believe that there were once many more wetlands and marshes and less free-flowing water in North America before the fur trade and pest control severely impacted beaver populations.

Western Toad

The Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas) is found across much of British Columbia. They live most of their lives in terrestrial environments but lay their eggs in small ponds. In the spring they make their way to these ponds where males search tirelessly for females since they are non-vocal. Once found they climb on top of the female and fertilize the eggs as she lays them in long strings. The tadpoles turn into toadlets and by mid-summer they emerge from the ponds and head for forests or meadows. Like some other of BC’s amphibians they exude a poison as a defense mechanism.

Vancouver Island Marmot

The Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) is one of four marmot species found in British Columbia and is endemic (found nowhere else) to Vancouver Island. They are one of the most endangered mammals in North America, if not the world. In 2015 the population was estimated at 250-300 individuals in the wild. They are found in alpine meadows and hibernate for up to seven months of the year. They are social animals and young marmots often engage in play fighting aka marmot boxing. To learn more about the marmots and recovery efforts or to help visit: marmots.org.