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NatureSpeak Articles

Checklist of Whistler’s Mammals — Addendum and Notes

The April 14, 2005 edition of Pique published a provisional list of Whistler’s mammalian species.

The public responded with several queries and notes on unusual sightings. Since then, Mr. Gavin Hanke of the Royal Provincial Museum has double-checked their files on authenticated reports of other species, and reviewed any taxonomic revisions of species which have taken place since the publication (1956) of their classic treatise on B.C.’s mammals.

As well, regional wildlife biologists and local officers of the Conservation Service of the B.C. Ministry of Water, Lands and Air Protection (formerly Environment) have also been queried on ungulates and on trapping records of fur-bearing carnivores. Deer species, in particular, had to be sorted out because of the confusion shown in the hunting regulations.

At the end of the review, for the time being, thirteen species have been added to Whistler’s list, including six of the nine possible noted in the last paragraphs of the previous article, which brings the revised total to 56 species. All are year-round inhabitants, and roughly equivalent to the number of bird species which remain year-round at Whistler.

But seasonal migrations of the latter run the total to about 235, whereas there is no equivalent of seasonal in-migration of other mammals.

Nonetheless, biologists acknowledge the rare appearance of "stray" out-of-range species in our corridor, brought about by movements along our highways due to a localized stress or to their accidental movements on wheeled vehicles, including freight trains. One intentional trans-location, however, has been elk, introduced into the Upper Squamish River watershed recently. The animals are now appearing in the Cheakamus and Green River watersheds, utilizing low passes between the three drainage systems for their movements. So, elk are one of the 56 species on our checklist. Has anyone seen them?

The new additions, as follows, are again listed in taxonomic order and notes on some are provided for explanation:

Order Insectivora — Shrews and Moles

Trowbridge Shrew — Sorex trowbridgii

Wandering Shrew — Sorex vagrans

Order Chiroptera — Bats

Big Brown Bat — Eptesicus fuscus

Long-eared Myotis — Myotis evotis

Long-legged Myotis — Myotis volans

Yuma Myotis — Myotis yumanensis

Townsends (Western) Big-eared Bat — Corynorhinus rafinesque townsendi

Order Rodentia — Voles, Rats, Mice

Keen’s Deer Mouse — Peromyscus keeni

Water Rat or Richardson Vole — Microtus richardsoni

Long-tailed Vole — Microtus longicaudus

Black Rat — Rattus rattus rattus

Order Carnivora — Flesh Eaters

Red Fox — Vulpes fulva — locally very rare

Order Artiodactyla — Ungulates

Roosevelt Elk — Cervus canadensis roosevelti

Coast Deer x Mule Deer Inteergrade — Odocoileus hemionus columbianus x

O.h. hemionus

In addition to the above, the following strays in accidental movements from the east side of the Coast Mountains have been seen at least once in the Whistler corridor. They have not (yet) bred to establish a permanent presence; and thus are not considered to be part of our fauna:

Striped Skunk — Mephitis mephitis

Canada Lynx — Felix canadensis

Mule Deer — Odocoileus hemionus hemionus

White-tailed Deer — Odocoileus virginianus

To amplify on the above, we are advised that local collections of small mammals are sparse, and additions to the number of shrews, mice, lemmings and vole species are to be expected when thorough surveys are carried out. The Keen’s Deer Mouse, once thought to be only on the Queen Charlotte Islands, as a sub-species of a White-footed Deer Mouse, is now recognized to habituate all of the Coast Mountains. Bats are in a state of classification flux. Some species listed could be resorted to two or more species once taxonomic work, now underway, is completed.

The last confirmed local sighting of a Red fox was by Colin Pitt Taylor about five years ago, near Function Junction. Conservation officers have not seen or heard of a confirmed report of this animal since then. Wildlife biologists are adamant that all so-called Mule Deer in the Pemberton Valley are only intergrades to Coast deer, the unadulterated sub-species is still far east and north of the area. Likewise, White-tailed Deer have not penetrated into the Pemberton valley, and those allegedly seen and shot to the south of Whistler are accidental strays, being there as a result of some unusual circumstances.

Our only species of the chipmunk is the Northwestern, also known as the Yellow Pine; the Townsends does not exist in the corridor despite colour and size similarities of some our local populations to it. Finally, our Hoary marmot is sacrosanct; its Yellow-bellied cousin lacks an authenticated record anywhere near Whistler. Whew!

Note: The Whistler Museum and Archives is interested in publishing a list of local mammals for distribution. More information to follow.

Upcoming Events

"The Whistler Naturalists Society monthly birdwalk for June will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2005. We meet at the west end of Lorimer Road (near the entrance to Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church) at 7:00 a.m.


Come join us as we explore the Whistler Demonstration Forest on June 15th (Wed.) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Our host and guide will be Don MacLaurin, RMOW forestry consultant. The walk is rated as easy and will be suitable for families. There is no charge for this event, but participants will be asked to sign a liability waver. The walk will start at the Demonstration Forest entry parking lot just across the highway from Function Junction.

Written by: Karl Ricker


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