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We’re Celebrating the Environment with the Wacky Wildlife Awards

We’re Celebrating the Environment with the Wacky Wildlife Awards

We’re Celebrating the Environment with the Wacky Wildlife Awards

By Emily Jerome, Digital Engagement Assistant, National Environmental Treasure

It’s World Environmental Day! There’s no better time to celebrate the biodiversity that makes the world go round. So, let’s roll out the red carpet because it’s time for the Wacky Wildlife Awards!

Dare Devil Award

Winner: Mountain Goats

With rubbery hooves, they defy gravity as they climb near-vertical walls throughout the rocky alpine of western North America. When they aren’t busy majestically posing on cliff bands, they’re munching on low-lying shrubs and plants or searching for tasty salt licks. By living the high life, they’re able to avoid predators including bears, wolves, cougars and golden eagles.

Mountain Goat on cliff band
Photo by Robert L Moffat / 500px from Getty Images/Canva

Tree Hugger Award

Winner: Red Squirrels

As they frantically scurry up and down trees, these busy little critters might seem a bit ‘squirrely.’ But, it’s for a good reason as hidden caches of food help red squirrels survive the winter. They often stash nuts and pinecones underground but sometimes forget where. Next thing you know, there’s a new tree growing! In this way, red squirrels help forests regenerate.

Red squirrel eating nut near tree
Photo by ysbrandcosignfotografie via Canva

Super Snacker Award

Winner: Grizzly Bears

To bulk up for winter, bears go into hyperphagia where they’re uncontrollably hungry. This ensures that they have enough fat stores to survive their winter-long snooze. If you don’t know about Fat Bear Week, you need to check it out. Every October, the salmon-feasting bears at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park go head to head as they compete for the pudgiest bear according to viewers’ votes.

Grizzly bear eating salmon in forest
Photo by Simon Dubreuil from Getty Images/Canva

Magnificent Mustache Award

Winner: Harbour Seals

Not only do their mustaches look great, but these highly sensitive whiskers can detect the movements of prey. In fact, if a harbour seal was blindfolded and wearing earplugs, they could still track down a fish using only their whiskers. Their adept mustaches also come in handy when ocean waters are particularly dark and murky.

Harbour seal lying on rock covered in seaweed near ocean
Photo by Pr2is from Getty Images/Canva

Craziest Dance Moves Award

Winner: Short-Tailed Weasels

It’s been said that weasels do a dance chock-full of unexpected twisting and hopping to disorient and even hypnotize their prey. Their fancy-pants moves help them catch ground squirrels, shrews, mice and rabbits. Short-tailed weasels are also known as ermines and are found in every province and territory in Canada.

Short-Tailed Weasel standing on rocks
Photo by mlharing from Getty Images Signature/Canva

5 o’Clock Somewhere Award

Winner: Bohemian Waxwings

As it gets cooler, fruit left hanging on trees ferment. Bohemian waxwings will flock to these trees to enjoy a berry margarita at any hour of the day. By planting fruiting trees and shrubs such as crabapple, mountain cranberry, flowering dogwood and winterberry you can host a bird happy hour and provide these fruit fiends with food throughout the year.

Bohemian Waxing Bird on bard eating berries
Photo by Declan Troy / 500px from Getty Images/Canva

Best Disappearing Act Award

Winner: Giant Pacific Octopus

In one-tenth of a second, these talented eight-legged creatures can change the pigment and texture of their skin to match their surroundings. When they aren’t playing hide-and-go-seek with prey like crabs and predators like Pacific sleeper sharks, they like to relax in their dens amongst boulders or in crevasses.

Giant Pacific Octopus swimming in ocean
Photo by Pr2is from Getty Images/Canva

Clean-up Crew Award

Winner: Dung Beetle

These hard-working beetles are no stranger to getting down and dirty. By rolling and tunnelling through dung, they are able to break down animal waste and cycle the nutrients back into the soil. In addition to enriching the soil for plant growth, dung beetles spread plant seeds and bury them underground. This helps protect seeds from hungry critters and allows new plants to grow.

Dung beetle sitting on log
Dung Beetle by arenysam from Getty Images/Canva

Globetrotter Award

Winner: Leatherback Sea Turtles

Every year, leatherback sea turtles travel over 11,000 kilometres roundtrip as they complete their annual migration. From breeding grounds in the warm tropical waters of Latin America and the Caribbean to feeding grounds in Canada’s cold waters, it’s safe to say that these graceful marine reptiles are well-travelled.

Leatherback sea turtle lying on sand near near ocean
Photo by Rawlinson_Photography from Getty Images Signature/Canva

Picasso Award

Winner: Elegant Sunburst Lichen

There’s nothing like a pop of brilliant orange against the dull grey of bedrock. The circular formations of this blood orange-coloured lichen can be seen growing on rocks worldwide and are considered one of the most widespread lichen species. In 2020, the elegant sunburst lichen was in the running to become Canada’s National Lichen but took second place behind the star-tipped reindeer lichen.

Orange Elegant Sunburst Lichen on rocks
Photo by Gerald Corsi from Getty Images.

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