With rich forests, coastal waters, formidable mountains and magnificent lakes, Canada’s wondrous outdoors is home sweet home for approximately over 80,000 classified species of wildlife! With over half of Canada’s landscape (fairly) free of human development, it comes as no surprise that there is such a range of biodiversity. While the moose or beaver are famous in Canada, there are many more to spot! We’ve rounded up six of Canada’s most iconic wildlife for you.
The name ‘bison’ is derived from Latin and means ‘wild ox’. These majestic animals are Ice Age survivors, weighing up to 900 kilograms and able to run up to 65 kilometres per hour! In the early days prior to the arrival of Europeans, bison were king and ruled the plains throughout Canada (and North America) in numbers over 30 million. Sadly, the bison population is dwindling due to colonisation so there are major conservation efforts in place to support them.
Depicted on the Canadian 25-cent coin, caribou are bound to be an icon for Canada! Historically, they also played an important part in providing food, clothing and cultural identity to the Indigenous people. Each year, caribou will make their annual, long-distance migration to gather in large groups at popular calving spots for spring. Come summer, they’ll move to cooler areas with high-quality foraging on offer.
Best spotted in spring and summer during their prime breeding season, these cute birds are the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean. True to its name, the Atlantic puffin will spend most of their lives at sea as they are proficient swimmers, often diving as deep as 60 metres underwater to catch their favourite small fish! Designated as the official bird of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1992, their plumage will change drastically between when they breed, and not! Its glossy black and white plumage will lose its sheen, eventually losing these feathers at the end of winter for a brand-new coat for spring.
Famously known for their ‘smily’ nature and pearl-white skin, belugas love to call the Canadian waters home in summer. Two-thirds of the world’s population will migrate here from the Arctic during the warmer months. If you happen to spot a pod, you’ll understand why their nickname is the “canary of the sea” – thanks to their clicks, chirps and whistles they use to communicate with each other and as a navigation tool.
Sometimes called ‘spirit bears’ due to their white colouring, the Kermode bear is a subspecies of the American black bear that is commonly found in British Columbia. Interestingly, their colouring is from a double recessive gene unique to the subspecies. This beautiful shade is a mix of white and cream, making them 30% more effective at catching salmon during the day as they’re less visible to fish!
With superior hearing, large eyes and padded paws that act like snowshoes, the Canadian lynx was born to be one of the country’s best hunters. Even though they have long legs, they prefer to hunt by lying in wait to pounce – usually for snowshoe hares, their meal of choice. Keep an eye out for the black tips of their short tail and the long tuffs of fur on their ears, both distinctive marks on the lynx.