The muskox is completely covered, except for the horns, hooves, lips and nose, with an under layer of short fine wool of exceptional warmth. The longer outer coat of shaggy hair covering the animal which is about a half metre long and often hanging almost to the ground, gives the muskox its characteristic appearance. Rounded hooves with sharp rims provide traction on ice and rocky surfaces.
The coat is generally dark brown or almost black. It is extremely shaggy on the shoulders and forms a distinct mane, which is especially noticeable on bulls. Behind the shoulders is a short white or creamy yellow "saddle". The lower legs have light brown to white "stockings". The muskox's inner wool or ‘qiviut’ is of exceptional quality with the weight and warmth of cashmere.
Muskoxen are very social animals. They live in loosely organized herds of about 15 animals or sometimes larger. They crossed into Northern America about 90,000 years ago when the Bering Strait was dry land. When the last glacier covered North America, muskoxen survived in ice-free areas or ‘glacial refugia’ in the northern arctic islands and Greenland. As the ice retreated, muskox spread throughout northern Canada and Greenland before moving westward into Alaska.
Today muskoxen in the NWT are found on Banks, Eglinton, Melville and Victoria Islands and on the mainland from the Arctic coast southwest to Artillery Lake.
Muskox in the NWT are managed by controlling the hunting season for resident and non-resident hunters. They are hunted under quota on Melville Island, Banks Island, and four areas on the mainland.
Hunting season for muskox on Melville and Victoria Islands is open from August 15th to March 31st. Hunting season on Banks Island is open from August 15th to April 30th.