If wildlife and spectacular scenery is your thing then you will not be disappointed by a trip to Canada. Stretching from the US in the South up to the Arctic Circle in the North there are a myriad of diverse landscapes, vibrant cities and multicultural communities to explore in-between. The Rockies, Vancouver, Niagra Falls and Banff National Park are all bucket list material but what wildlife can you expect to see on a trip to Canada? Some companies specialise in holidays to Canada with fabulous opportunities to explore all of this scenery and see some of the countries most unique landscape and wildlife.
There is nothing like the largest land mammal in North America to excite the tourists. Bison herds are again gradually on the increase following centuries of unchecked hunting of this magnificent animal. Elk Island National Park on the outskirts of the popular town of Edmenton boasts around 700 wood and plain bison and there are another 400 bison that roam the west of Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert National Park. Most impressively however, Wood Buffalo National Park, split between Alberta and the Northwest Territories houses the largest free-roaming herd of bison in the world, totalling around 5000 – for an animal once close to extinction this is a magical site and definitely deserves a place on the bucket list.
Moose, the largest members of the deer family and Elk are a huge lure to wildlife enthusiasts from oversees and keen holiday makers in search of that perfect photograph encapsulating the essence of Canada. Moose can be found in most Canadian forest land although it is believed that Algonquin Provincial Park forest lands offers some of the best moose watching opportunities in North America along with Matane wildlife reserve in Quebec. Interestingly, every April male moose (bulls) grow impressive antlers which are lost after rutting season in winter. Elk herds can reach 3000 in The Rocky Mountain National Park but sightings are also pretty much guaranteed in Banff and Jasper National Parks. It is apparently not uncommon to see a large elk on the side of the road as you leave the towns, or moose grazing in the forest by lakes and marshes in warmer months. Just make sure you stick to the speed limit as they have a habit of walking into roads and making a mess of car bonnets!
Everyone visiting Canada wants to catch a glimpse of the largest carnivore in North America – the brown bear more famously known as Grizzly Bears. These wonderful creatures are very adaptable and can be found in a wide variety of habitats. Whilst attacks are rare, the grizzly bear commands and deserves full respect at 8 ft tall weighing 250 kgs. Grizzlies are territorial and can be aggressive, which is something that I would rather not experience. They consume large amounts of food in summer so that they can survive during the winter hibernating in their den, pregnant mothers even give birth during hibernation. Watching a brown bear snatch fresh salmon out of a gushing river is an extraordinary highlight of any trip. One of the best place to view Grizzlies in the wild is on specialist bear-watching expeditions in British Columbia. Other places include Alberta, the tundra areas of the Ungava Peninsula and the northern tip of Labrador-Quebec.
Churchill, which lies on the edge Hudson Bay in Canada’s Manitoba region is one of the best known places in the world for seeing polar bears otherwise known as the “Kings of the Arctic”. According to the National Geographic there are 19 polar bear populations on the planet, 13 of them in Canada and none is as accessible as in Churchill, which draws an estimated 10,000 visitors every year. Watching these spectacular beasts is made even more spectacular by predictions that they could become extinct in their natural habitats by the end of the century due to the devastating effects of global warming. These carnivorous marine mammals spend most of their time on the arctic sea ice hunting for seals sitting at the top of the arctic food chain.