To say the North Muskoka region is a “hot spot” for winter wildlife may be pushing it just a little, but there is some truth to the statement. Many of the creatures that spend time in North Muskoka or call it home during the winter are particularly friendly, so sightings might be unlikely. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.
With all the leaves gone and everything covered in snow, the winter seems pretty lifeless in North Muskoka, but not all the animals hibernate or relocate during winter. Here are some that stick around all year long.
The Red Fox
The red fox is characterized by its reddish-coloured fur with white on the throat and chest area. You can find the red fox all through Ontario, including North Muskoka. They don’t hibernate and they survive on both plant and animal material for food.
The porcupine is another non-hibernator, but it does but it doesn’t generally move more than 100 meters or so from its den in the winter. They are solitary animals, so the likelihood of seeing one in the winter isn’t great, but if you like to cross-country ski and hike, the possibility is always there.
Great Grey Owl
The great grey owl spends most of its time in boreal forests farther north than North Muskoka, but some winters when their food sources dwindle, they must move south in order to survive. This happens every four years or so, and bird enthusiasts are always look forward to seeing these big, silent gliding birds whenever they make an appearance.
The cats of North Muskoka are also seldom seen by humans in winter, which probably isn’t a bad thing. You may hear conflicting accounts about precisely which types of cats make North Muskoka home in the winter, but there have been reports of cougars, bobcats and lynx in the region when the snow starts falling.
The snowshoe hare is brownish in the summer, but turns white in winter to blend in with the snow and hide from its many predators. It is a favorite of basically every meat-eating predator North Muskoka has to offer.
Moose are unmistakable for their size and their general appearance. If you’re lucky enough to see a male in the winter, their characteristic antlers will no longer be visible as they shed them in the fall and grow a new pair the following summer.
No post about Muskoka wildlife would be complete without mentioning deer. The white-tailed deer is known to hunters, cottagers, tourists, explorers and anyone else who ventures into North Muskoka. You may not catch a glimpse in the winter, depending on the temperature and snowfall amounts, but they are out there.
The coyote is shy and cautious and resembles a large dog. They are also very intelligent and are difficult if not impossible to live trap. You likely won’t see too many in the winter or anytime, but you might hear them howling from time to time.
You may also be able to hear wolves howling at night in winter and other times during the year. Eastern wolves and grey wolves or “timber wolves” have been seen in the Muskoka region and both have extremely strong senses, which makes them tough for humans to spot. They hunt in packs and like to feed on the previously mentioned white-tail deer and moose.
If you like to spend winter time in North Muskoka (and why wouldn’t you!) keep your eyes open and you just may catch a glimpse of one of threes beauties.