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A guide to Canada’s wildlife
The Canadian wilderness is home to some of the world’s most incredible wildlife. In a day, you can witness grizzlies fishing for salmon, come face to face with a majestic moose and watch a breaching humpback whale off the coast. For wildlife photographers, the dramatic landscapes of Canada provide the ultimate setting whilst nature lovers are bound to be blown away by the diverse flora and fauna that awaits around every corner.
Over 30 species of whale have been sighted off the coast of Canada, the longest coastline in the world and a whale-watching experience in search of one of them is sure to be a highlight of your trip. For us, nothing quite beats scouring the horizon for a spout of mist or the flick of an enormous tail. Canada is primed for an encounter with a playful humpback, a chance sighting of an orca or getting up close with a minke. Whether it be by boat, by kayak or by snorkel, seeing a whale in the wild is bound to take your breath away.
Going in search of bears sits top of the bill on any Canada itinerary. Whilst seeing them from the side of the road is of course possible, the true magic of getting up close with a grizzly, black or spirit bear is being truly immersed in nature. The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the best preserved temperate rainforests in the world and its cedar and spruce forests are a fantastic habitat for bears, wolves, cougars and bald eagles. Migratory salmon nourish the whole ecosystem, in turn one of the largest concentrations of grizzlies in the wild. This stretch of rainforest is also the only place in the world where you can spot a spirit bear in the wild.
Grizzlies and black bears
Catching sight of a bear in the wild is bound to be the highlight of any Canada itinerary. For the best chances of seeing a bear up close head to the Great Bear Rainforest. One of the most ancient and best preserved temperate rainforests in the world, the Great Bear Rainforest is home to fragrant cedar and spruce forests and is a fantastic habitat for bears, migratory salmon as well as wolves, cougars and bald eagles. Migratory salmon nourish the whole ecosystem, attracting one of the largest concentration of grizzlies in the wild, and the diverse landscapes of BC form the perfect habitats. It is also the only place in the world you can spot a spirit bear in the wild.
The majestic moose is something of an icon in Canada. The largest member of the deer family is recognisable for its huge antlers, which span a whopping six feet across, and can be found across Canada. Powerful swimmers and masters of almost every terrain, these huge creatures are also extraordinarily stealthy, with an acute sense of smell and hearing to help them manoeuvre through deep snow, thick forests and swampland silently.
Caribou, or reindeer, are yet another of Canada’s unique species to tick off your bucket list on your travels through the country. Feeding on abundant grasses and the plants of the tundra, caribou can be spotted across British Columbia and further afield. Caribou are extremely endangered and less than half of Canada’s barren-ground caribou remain, some herd numbers have declined by a staggering 95%.
The cougar, our mountain lion, is Canada’s largest wild cat. These solitary creatures roam the Canadian tundra at dusk and dawn and can be seen across the prairies of Alberta, British Columbia southern Ontario and Quebec. With a field vision of 130 degrees, the cougar is stealthily able to track its prey up to 50 miles in one day. Although your chances of seeing one of these elusive cats is slim, spotting one from afar is an exhilarating experience that you are bound never to forget.