Muskox

Muskox.

Name

  • Common name: Muskox
  • Scientific name: Ovibos moschatus
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Bovidae

Also known as

Umingmak or the "Bearded One"

Viewing opportunities

  • The most consistent place to view Muskox is in Ivvavik National Park, particularly along the Firth River to Joe Creek and on the delta.
  • If you’re lucky enough to visit Herschel Island you might spot Muskox there.
  • Be sure to keep a safe distance as the bulls can be temperamental, even aggressive, if approached too closely.

Description

  • Cow-like body with short legs and hump between shoulders.
  • Completely covered by long, shaggy, brown outer guard hair, often with a white band near front shoulders.
  • Short, curved horns grow down the head and curve outward.
  • Both male and female have horns.

Fast facts

  • Height: 1.5 m
  • Weight: 300 kg
  • Lifespan: 12 to 20 years
  • Predators: Wolves, Grizzly Bears
  • Habitat: Arctic Tundra

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S1S2 (Critically Imperiled/Imperiled)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Yukon population estimate

300.

Behaviour

Muskox live together in loosely organized herds of about 50 animals that may split or join up with others at all times of the year. When they are threatened or disturbed, Muskox bunch together in a tight ring facing outwards protecting the young in the centre, a unique defence formation. Dominance is decided through aggressive behaviour between the bulls and may include long and spectacular clashes head-on.

Food

Sedge, grasses, forbs and willow.

Distribution

Muskox distribution map.

Sights and sounds

Muskox track.
Muskox track: 13.8 x 12.5 cm

Mukoxen and people

  • In 1917, the Canadian government passed the Northwest Game Act, which put Muskoxen under protection.
  • The soft underwool of Muskoxen, also called "qiviut," is comparable to cashmere in quality and is the warmest wool possible. It is highly valued by knitters because of the insulating abilities, but also the difficulty in acquiring it.