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Best Places in Canada for Wildlife Spotting

By on October 15, 2012
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After months on end in the city, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only wildlife Canada is home to are squirrels, raccoons, and enormous centipedes. But hark! All you need to do is book a cottage getaway in one of the following areas, and you could be spotting majestic native fauna in no time.

1. Tadoussac, Quebec

The peak times for whale-watching in Tadoussac, Quebec are September and October, so how about starting to plan a cottage weekend in the area now? Tadoussac sits at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Saguenay rivers and, from May to October, is home to blue whales, humpbacks, minkes, and belugas. These whales dive and feast on krill in the waters before migrating to the Atlantic Ocean for winter. Choose a large passenger ship, small boat or sea kayak for your whale-watching tour, but don’t forget a warm jacket and your camera.

2. Churchill, Manitoba

Churchill is located on the west shore of Hudson Bay in Manitoba, and is so famous for polar bear migration in the fall that it’s earned the nickname “Polar Bear Capital of the World”. If you couldn’t get away to the cottage in the summer, or perhaps simply enjoy cooler-weather breaks, then Churchill is just the place for your next wildlife cottage adventure. In October and November, over a thousand polar bears appear to wait on the peninsula for the water to freeze on Hudson Bay, at which point they leave the area to hunt seals for the winter. Earlier in the season, wildlife lovers can keep an eye out for beluga whales and such birds as the Snowy Owl, Tundra Swan, Gyrlacon, American Golden Plover and Stilt Sandpiper.

3. Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta

Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta is a paradise for nature-lovers interested in seeing wildlife beyond bears, wolves and beavers. This UNESCO World Heritage Site protects at-risk and endangered species like the Whooping Crane, Peregrine Falcon, and Wood Bison, and is also one of the few places in Canada to see the above-ground mating rituals of red-sided garter snakes. Oh, and Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest national park in Canada. What are you waiting for?

4. Canadian Rockies

Sure, we could be more specific than simply saying the “Canadian Rockies”, considering how much of Canada these mountains take up, but the truth of the matter is that your chances of spotting wildlife are high no matter where in the mountains you are. Whether you’re driving through Banff National Park to Jasper or taking a guided Skyline trek, keep your eyes and ears open for bighorn sheep, mule deer, bald eagles, loons, coyotes, and yes, even grizzly bears.

5. Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Yukon

With a name like the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, we’d be remiss to leave this non-profit wildlife viewing property near Whitehorse, Yukon off our list. For families who are interested in wildlife viewing during their cottage getaway but aren’t quite up for trekking or camping in the wilderness, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve offers a great chance to see artic foxes, Canada lynx, elk, moose, mountain goats,  thinhorn sheep and more. Yukon Wildlife Preserve also offer school programs and nature camps, and is involved in conservation efforts.

6. Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

Winter vacations need not be all about skiing, snowboarding, or staying indoors with a mug of hot chocolate and a book. Plan a trip to the winter wonderland of Cambridge Bay and surrounds in Nunavut this winter, and you’ll get the chance to see all manner of amazing wildlife native to the artic tundra. Great big shaggy muskox, massive herds of caribou, bowhead and beluga whales, polar bears, walrus, artic hares, lemmings, and even narwhals can all be seen in different areas of Nunavut. Bonus tip: The Inuktitut word for wildlife is nirjutit.

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