Fort Whyte Alive is all set for Groundhog Day. The annual prediction of a long winter or early spring happens Friday Feb. 2.
Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (PWRC) has invited the public to witness the prediction of Winnipeg Wyn, their resident woodchuck, at Fort Whyte at 9:30 a.m.
Wyn, who will turn two in May, made her debut on Groundhog Day in 2017.
Wyn was taken in by staff at PWRC in 2016 — after staff at a rural fire station found her all alone by their driveway. A neighbour had trapped and relocated an adult woodchuck days earlier.
“Wyn was a true orphan. Weighing only a few hundred grams, she was bald, eyes closed and she was very dehydrated. We continued to rehab Wyn with the hopes of admitted more young woodchucks to form her a new family. Weeks followed, and Wyn’s eyes opened, no other woodchucks came in,” Sheila Smith, founding member of PWRC, said.
Ever since, Wyn has been part of the education team at the centre. She and her trainer stopped in at CJOB Thursday.
While the usual format for winter prediction involves determining the duration of winter based on whether or not the animal sees it’s shadow, PWRC plans to introduce a new way of doing things.
The rehab centre staff said they are better able to predict seasonal change by observing Wyn over time and understanding her behaviours rather than relying on shadows.
“Things we would see for an early SPRING: awake more than sleeping, lots of activity, enclosure being used and responding to us when entering her space,” Smith said.
“Things we would see for a longer WINTER: a sleeping woodchuck, very little to no activity, clean enclosure, and no response when we enter her space.” Smith did not give any hints to what the announcement would be on Friday.
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In case you are wondering, woodchucks and groundhogs the same thing.
“Marmota monax are also known as ‘woodchucks’ for their tree-climbing ability, or ‘whistlepigs’ due to the shrill sound they make when alarmed, are the major hole-digging animal found across northeastern North America,” Smith said.