Mar 12, 2019

Top 5 wildlife to spot whilst in Canada


If spotting wildlife is high on your agenda when visiting Canada, then you will want to time your visit just right to spot as many types of animals as possible.

Typically, the best time to see Canadian wildlife is during spring when animals come out of hibernation and during the breeding season in autumn.

We recommend bringing a good pair of binoculars to help you search for animals as well as a decent camera to take your photos, plus a spare battery and memory cards. You will need to have patience though as spotting animals like bears or moose is a lot more difficult than other animals. Your Tour Director and driver will do their best to help you spot the animals, but make sure you keep your eyes wide open as you never know when you will chance a wildlife encounter.

Here are the top 5 wildlife you are likely to spot whilst in Canada.


1. Bears

There are three types of bears you can spot in Canada. These include black bears, grizzly bears (also referred to as brown bears) and polar bears.

Black bears and grizzly bears can be found in the Canadian Rocky Mountains with peak viewing between May and October.

These bears start to come out of hibernation from late April/May and tend to head towards grassland areas to feed.

This is also the prime time to spot bear cubs who will stick close to their mothers.

The autumn months from late August to October, mark an excellent time to view grizzly bears as they go in search of salmon to bulk up before they settle down and hibernate for winter.

Grizzly bears are the most common type of bear and can weigh as much as 318kg. They can stand on two legs and reach a height of almost two and a half metres tall.

Interestingly, black bears are not always black in colour, they can be grey or a light brown colour and are actually much smaller than their grizzly neighbour.

Enjoy close encounters of grizzly bears at Knight Inlet, especially between late August to mid-October when salmon take to the rivers to spawn.

Of all three bear types, Polar bears are the largest and can weigh up to 550kg.

If you want to spot Polar bears, it’s best to head to Churchill, Manitoba for viewings by Tundra Buggy – one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime.

The best times to visit include March, mid-June to August and October to November.

Spot black bears in Canada

Spot brown bears in Canada

Spot Polar beats in Churchill


2. Moose

As well as bears in Canada, moose can be spotted in the upper Rocky Mountains including Banff and Jasper National Parks, but can be harder to spot than bears.

For your best chance to see a moose, look out for them at dusk and dawn from mid-May until July and in the autumn during breeding season.

Moose are solitary animals and spend most of their time on their own. They are also the largest species of deer.

Moose


3. Whales

If whales are on the top of your list of Canadian wildlife to spot then you will be pleased to read that there are a variety of whales that may be seen from your cruise ship or zodiac as you cruise Canada and Alaska. Look out for grey whales and orcas.

The best time to spot whales off the coast of Vancouver is between May to October. During this time, look out for humpback whales, orcas, gray whales and minke whales. March and April is a particularly good time to view Pacific Gray Whales which are migrating north along the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Besides spotting whales, you are likely to see other wildlife including bald eagles, brown pelicans and tufted puffins.

Orca whales off the coast of Vancouver


4. Elk

Unlike the solitary moose, elk are very sociable animals and are usually found with other elk.

This is one animal you are most likely to see during your Canada tour so keep your cameras at the ready.

The North American elk, or wapiti is the largest form of the red deer species and are second in size only to the moose. Male elk are most notable for their large antlers.

Look out for them whilst in the national parks of Banff and Jasper and in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Alberta.

Elk


5. Bighorn sheep

Bighorn sheep are very agile animals and are great at climbing steep terrain.

They are typically spotted in the alpine meadows, grassy slopes and foothill country of southern Canada, and close to the cliffs of the Rocky Mountains.

Bighorn sheep are also sociable animals, but only with their own gender except during mating season.

They get their name due to their large, curved horns on the adult males and range from light brown to greyish brown in colour, with a white rump and lining on the backs of all four legs.

LBighorn sheep


As well as bears, moose, whales, elk and bighorn sheep, other Canadian wildlife to keep an eye out for include mountain goats, bison, wolf, coyote, bald eagles, porcupine, musk ox, muskrat, Canada goose, beaver and more.

3 Iconic Canadian wildlife experiences not to miss

  1. Scenic Enrich Black Bear Presentation – Learn all about black bears during an exclusive presentation by expert researcher Michael Allen. You can enjoy this presentation on a number of our Canada tours including the 22 day Magnificent Canadian Rockies & Alaskan Cruise.
  2. Knight Inlet Lodge for grizzly bear viewing experience – From May to late August, witness grizzly bears from the water on a boat tour or kayak. You can learn the techniques of bear tracking with an expert naturalist interpreter always on hand.
  3. Polar bear viewing – Head to Churchill in Manitoba to view Polar bears by Tundra Buggy – one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime. For the ultimate bear experience, combine our 9 day Grizzly & Polar Bear Adventure with the Knight Inlet Lodge.