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Author: Tessa Miller

Mar 01, 2024

For many, it’s a late-winter hobby, but for the keepers in Northwest Trek Wildlife Park’s 435-acre Free-Roaming Area, it’s just another part of their job: shed hunting. The bull (male) elk are beginning to drop their antlers—a yearly occurrence that happens a few months after breeding season due to a decrease in testosterone. “We’ve already seen some impressively large antlers drop,” said assistant curator Dave. When a bull elk drops its antlers, they immediately begin growing a new set. “Antler grows faster than any other bone,” said Dave. “During the summer months, bull elk antlers can grow up to ¾ …

Feb 28, 2024

Being native to the Pacific Northwest, the animals at Northwest Trek don’t seem to mind the colder winter weather. But the snowy owls at the park don’t just put up with it, they thrive in it. Tundra, a male, and Taiga, a female, embrace these cooler temperatures and it shows. “They’re more active at this time of year and we notice a big increase in their food drive,” said keeper Miranda Mauck. “Their favorite food is mice!” In the wild, snowy owls live near beaches and fields in the winter in Alaska and Canada… brrr! Now you see me, now …

Jan 17, 2024

Will the wolves be howling at the moon? If you look to the sky on Jan. 25, you will see a full moon traditionally known as the “Wolf” Moon. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the names for full moons come from a number of places, including Native American groups, colonial Americans or other traditional North American names passed down through generations. The name of the January moon is derived from wolves, which tend to howl more often in the winter months. So why do wolves howl? To find their pack members and communicate with them in many different ways, …

Dec 05, 2023

Brrr! You can feel the chill in the air as the temperature drops. You’re likely pulling out your winter coats, if you haven’t already! Many of the animals at the wildlife park also have their winter coats ready and are well-prepared for the colder weather. Wolverines Wolverines are made for the cold- and our wolverines Rainier and Ahma are no exception. Wolverines are well-adapted for winter living, with extremely dense fur, large snowshoe-like paws that allow them to stay on top of deep snow and crampon-like claws that enable them to climb up and over steep cliffs and snow-covered peaks. …

Dec 04, 2023

Reindeer tend to steal the spotlight in December, but it’s their close relative, the caribou, that turns heads at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. But what exactly is the difference between the two (besides one being Santa’s favorite)? What’s the difference? Scientifically speaking, reindeer and caribou are the same genus and species – Rangifer tarandus. But they are different sub-species – tarandus (reindeer) and granti (caribou). What the animal is called can depend on their origin and domestication. The word reindeer refers to domesticated animals. Both reindeer and caribou can be found in Alaska but have different lifestyles. Reindeer were brought …

Oct 30, 2023

The black bears at Northwest Trek have gone down for their winter naps, also known as torpor. During torpor, a bear’s body temperature, respiratory rate and metabolic rates all decrease to conserve energy. The bears can maintain this low energy sleeping state for days, weeks or even months without having much activity outside of their den, including eating and going to the bathroom.  Northwest Trek’s black bears, Benton and Fern, typically go into torpor from November until February or March. “Benton and Fern do have periods of activity during the winter months, where they will eat, go to the …

Oct 06, 2023

Black cats, pumpkins, ghosts… skulls and skeletons. They’re all symbols of the Halloween season. We asked Northwest Trek’s Head Veterinarian, Dr. Allison Case, to give us an “inside” look at a few of the wildlife park’s animals and their not-so-spooky skeletons. Dr. Case regularly takes radiographs (X-rays) of the animals to assess their health and care for them. Carly the Cougar Check out Carly the cougar’s skull and teeth! Cougars have long canine teeth that are extremely sharp and can cut through bone, meat, and tendons. Debunking the myth: Q: Do cougars stalk and attack humans? A: Cougars are stalking …

Sep 22, 2023

Fat Bear Week, October 4-October 10, is a celebration of success and survival, where brown bears in the Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska are matched against each other in a “march madness” style online voting competition to see who is crowned the Fat Bear Week Champion of 2023. No, it’s not fat shaming- it’s highlighting the resilience and adaptability of brown bears. The winner will be announced on Fat Bear Tuesday (Oct. 10). While the grizzly bears at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park aren’t in the competition, we think they’re worth celebrating, too. Huckleberry and Hawthorne, both five years old, …

Sep 22, 2023

It’s time for a new seasonal menu! A considerable part of a keeper’s job is preparing specialized, enriching diets for the animals in their care. For Northwest Trek grizzly bears, Hawthorne and Huckleberry, that means a whole new slate of delicious foods related to the season. “In the fall, we offer the grizzly boys butternut and acorn squash,” explained keeper Carly. “We also make a special trail mix, which includes sunflower and walnut seeds, peanuts, shredded coconut, raisins, dried dates, figs, plums, and cranberries.” But don’t worry- that’s not all. The five-year-old bears are preparing for their winter torpor naps …

Jan 09, 2023

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and love is in the air at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park! There’s no concrete way to measure an animal’s love but many of the animals at Northwest Trek are coupled up, or longtime companions, and enjoy each other’s company. Of course, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples- it’s about celebrating friendship and family, too! Grizzlies Bromance. Bro-entines (like, galentines). Brotherly love. Whatever you want to call it, grizzly bears Hawthorne and Huckleberry have it. While not technically brothers, they both arrived to Northwest Trek as cubs around the same age, orphaned in the …