Provincial and Territorial Links and Information

Let's first cover some of the legal aspects and links needed for Hunting in Canada.

icon download British Columbia Link Prohibited Weapons and Devices

When coming into Canada you must register your firearms when you ENTER the Country.

Note: Handguns are not permitted

icon download Hunting Regulation Download form 5589 from the RCMP Website.

Fill out the form (RCMP 5589) prior to your trip but DON'T SIGN IT - IT MUST BE SIGNED IN FRONT OF A CUSTOMS OFFICER.

icon download RCMP website for Firearms forms.

icon download Fact sheet for firearm users visiting Canada

icon download British Columbia Link Canadian Border Crossing Services


You should be aware that most provinces require that you use a guide or outfitter to hunt big game in Canada.

Refer to the Province that you are interested in for links to maps and regulations of that province.

Contact your outfitter and he will help you.

Some points to cover and expect.

If you are not a resident of Canada. You will need your Passport AND an old hunting lisence in order to purchase a new one.

If you are not a resident of Canada you should review your past history and know that even a 10 year old D.U.I could bar you from entering Canada. That is because drinking and driving in Canada is considered a Criminal Offence. (It does not matter how your country classifies it.)

For some guide lines on what to do. Visit the following Customs Website and find out what your options are.

When in Doubt do a background check on yourself and contact legal advice. (Remember I am not a lawyer and cannot offer legal advice.)

Finally for those of you bringing dogs into the country.

I should not have to mention that your dog has its vacinations shots and that you carry proof of those shots. 

But what you may not know is that you can not bring dog food into the country. So don't bother trying. Count on buying it in Canada.

Changes in Forest Ecosystems

Canada has approximately 3.48 million km2 of forest – representing 38% of the country’s total land area and 10% of the world’s forest cover – as well as another 409 thousand km2 of other wooded land and 85 thousand km2 of other land with tree cover (Natural Resources Canada, 2013a). Of this total, about 2 million km2 are under management planning, with some fire and insect management occurring in additional areas for an overall managed forest area of 2.29 million km2 . When combined with lakes, wetlands, and other non-vegetated surfaces within forest-dominated ecosystems, these ecosystems comprise approximately 60% of Canada (Wulder et al., 2008). The area of forest in Canada is relatively stable.

Changes in Forest Area

Deforestation (the conversion of forest to non-forest land uses due to human activity) resulted in the loss of about 12,100 km2 (1,210,000 hectares (ha)) of forested land between 1990 and 2012 (Figure 7) or about 0.33% of Canada’s total forest area. An average of 485 km2 (48,500 ha) was lost annually between 2008 and 2012, compared to about 640 km2 in 1990. Forest lands are converted to various uses such as March 2014 17 cropland, transport infrastructure, transmission lines, oil, gas and mining developments, urban expansion and flooding for new hydro reservoirs. Over the last two decades, the annual rate of deforestation in Canada has declined. This trend is expected to continue but at a slower pace. Conversion of forest to agricultural land uses will likely remain the largest factor (Figure 6). Although the rate of deforestation for agriculture is expected to decrease, it is possible that economic or policy changes within the agricultural sector could increase deforestation rates. Only the oil and gas sector is currently experiencing an increase in deforestation rates. Over the next decade these rates are expected to stabilize or increase, although that will depend on how economic conditions affect oil and gas activity. 

Canada's deforestation


Forest density in the forested region of Canada circa 2000.


Map Canada's forest density 

Forest edge density in the forested region of Canada, circa 2000. 


Canada's Forest Edge Density

Canada's Wetlands

Canad's Wetlands


Wildlife habitat capacity on the agricultural landscape 



Map Wildlife habitat capacity


Source: adapted from Javorek and Grant, 20103

In 2006, the average potential ability of the agricultural landscape to support wildlife was lowest in the Prairies, Boreal Plains, and Mixedwood Plains ecozones+, which together make up 92% of the agricultural landscape in Canada.3 Trends for individual parcels of land are variable and depend upon changes in their particular use. Although individual parcels, particularly pasture, provide critical wildlife habitat, the dominance of cropland results in a low overall capacity for much of these ecozones+. The ecozones+where the agricultural footprint was lighter and the dominant land cover within the agricultural landscape was natural (Atlantic Maritime and Boreal Shield) or unimproved pasture (Montane Cordillera, Western Interior Basin, and Pacific Maritime) had the highest wildlife capacity.3


Canada's Eco Zones



Canada's Ecozones


Arctic Cordillera Ecozone

Land mammals are rare in the Arctic Cordillera. This is due mainly to the sparse plant life, which is the foundation of all mammalian food chains. Arctic Hare, Arctic Fox, Ermine, and the Collared Lemming are among the few species to call the region home. However, their densities and abundance are generally much lower than in arctic habitats endowed with more plant cover. In most cases these animals thrive in pockets of higher plant productivity along moist sheltered streams and coastal areas.

Also favouring these habitats are the few species of songbirds and shorebirds that come to the far north to breed. Most common are Hoary Redpoll, Little Ringed Plover, and Snow Bunting.

This ecozone is mainly devoid of large land mammals, although in coastal areas the occasional Polar Bear strays as far as 100 km inland. For the most part, Polar Bears stay close to the sea, where biological productivity is many times higher than on land. In spring and early summer, Polar Bears take to the water and drifting ice floes in search of Ringed and Bearded Seals, their preferred prey. When the ice breaks up in August, Polar Bears come ashore to feed on mussels, starfish, birds' eggs, and carrion. Though Polar Bears are usually solitary, a beached Bowhead Whale carcass may attract a group of over 40 bears.

Besides Polar Bears, seals, and whales, the region’s unusually productive marine waters support large concentrations of seabirds, which congregate by the thousands. The waters surrounding Bylot Island and within Lancaster Sound support huge breeding colonies of Northern Fulmars, Thick-billed Murres, and Black-legged Kittiwakes./ 

Northern Arctic Ecozone

The extreme cold, harsh soils, and limited plant communities of the Northern Arctic are reflected in the relatively low diversity and abundance of mammals. Of the approximately 200 species of mammals found in Canada, fewer than 20 occur in this ecozone. There are few insect species and a total absence of reptiles and amphibians.

This land at first may appear to be empty of life, particularly in winter. But three large mammals -- the Muskox, Caribou, and Polar Bear -- are very much at home here throughout the year.

Muskoxen are found across much of the Northwest Territories portion of the area. They roam the plains and plateaus in small bands or individually during the summer, and in larger family groups in the fall and winter. Peary Caribou, found only on the high arctic islands, are smaller and more pale than the Barren-ground Caribou which inhabit the mainland of the Northwest Territories, Baffin Island, Quebec, and Labrador. Although they lack the spectacular mass migrations of many Barren-ground Caribou herds, most Peary Caribou make seasonal movements of up to several hundred kilometres between arctic islands. Polar Bears also range widely as they journey along coastal areas or follow the sea ice in search of seals.

The only small mammal hardy enough to survive the harsh climate of this region is the Collared Lemming. It seeks protection from frigid winter temperatures under a protective blanket of snow. Lemmings are active all winter, scurrying through tunnels to their well-stocked food chambers. To the Arctic Fox, Ermine, and birds such as the Gyrfalcon and Snowy Owl, they are a vital source of food. A reduction in lemming numbers, caused by severe weather or as yet unexplained population cycles, can have a ripple effect in many arctic food chains.

In spring, the land reverberates with the sound of thousands of migrant birds. Immediately after arrival, they begin a frantic schedule of breeding, nesting, and rearing young. Snow Geese, Brant, and Canada Geese nest in moist wetlands that line coastal areas and river valleys. Eider and Oldsquaw Ducks nest beside small ponds on grassy tundra. These areas also support a surprising number of shorebirds, including the Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, and Red Phalarope. Hoary Redpolls, Horned Larks, and Snow Buntings need very little vegetation cover for nesting and thus can survive in even the most sparse arctic landscape.

Southern Arctic Ecozone

Low biological productivity, a short growing season, and extremely cold, long winters impose severe demands on wildlife in the Southern Arctic. As a result, the number of resident bird and mammal species drops sharply as one moves beyond the trees onto the tundra. Food chains are relatively short and changes in the abundance of one species may profoundly affect another species. For instance, a cold, late spring drastically reduces the nesting success of Canada Geese. This causes trouble for Arctic Fox, which depends heavily on egg predation at this time of year.

For wildlife observers, unobstructed views of the animals that inhabit the area compensate for its relatively low number of species. Little can compare with the sight of the Barren-ground Caribou during their autumn migration.

Close to a million caribou migrate south each year, including the Bluenose, Bathurst, Beverly, and Qaminirjuaq herds in the Northwest Territories, the Porcupine herd of the northern Yukon, and the Leaf River and George River herds of northern Quebec and Labrador. They move from their summer calving grounds along the northern fringe of the ecozone to their winter range in the taiga forest. During migration, they travel in large groups, often using the many snake-like eskers as natural highways through the tundra.

Flocks of migrating ducks, loons, geese, and swans add to the brief spectacle of autumn on the edge of the tundra. Like Caribou, Willow Ptarmigan migrate only as far as the taiga forest to find food and shelter during the winter months. The brief summer sees the hatching of countless billions of insects. The broad silhouette of the Rough-legged Hawk is a familiar sight as it scans the mossy hummocks and shrublands for voles and lemmings.

A limited number of Grizzly Bears can be found in the Northwest Territories portion of the Southern Arctic Ecozone, as can Muskox and other prominent wildlife species. The Barren-ground Black Bear is common throughout Northern Quebec. Moose are also present, particularly along the treeline to the south. Polar Bears roam the coastal areas during the summer and venture onto the growing pack ice as winter sets in. 

Taiga Plains Ecozone

The islands and flood-enriched shores of the Mackenzie, Liard, and Slave rivers are favourite habitats for many wildlife species, including Moose. In summer, Moose feed mostly on aquatic vegetation in shallow waters. In winter, they browse heavily on shoreline willows, leaving behind abundant signs in the snow in the form of tracks, trails, droppings, and shed antlers.

Barren-ground Caribou from the Porcupine Herd overwinter in the northwest corner of this ecozone, while scattered groups of Woodland Caribou are found throughout the area during all seasons. Other common mammal species include Wolf, Red Fox, Snowshoe Hare, Lynx, Black Bear, Marten, Mink, Ermine, Wolverine, River Otter, Porcupine, Muskrat, Red Squirrel, Beaver, and Northern Red-backed Vole. Two thirds of the 3 000 Wood Bison in Canada range freely in the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary along the eastern shore of Great Slave Lake.

Common bird species that breed here during the brief spring and summer include the Red-throated Loon (in the northernmost part), Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Canvasback, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Hawk Owl, Northern Shrike, and Fox Sparrow. During this time of year, fish-eating raptors such as the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Osprey are familiar sights as they soar above the shorelines. Hundreds of thousands of Ducks, Geese, and Swans use the region's many lakes, rivers, and wetlands as staging or nesting areas. The Mackenzie Valley forms one of North America's better-travelled migratory corridors for waterfowl breeding along the arctic coast.

Year-round bird species adapted to long, cold winters include the Common Raven, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Gray Jay, Common Redpoll, and Willow Ptarmigan. High insect populations make the ecozone a welcome breeding habitat for insect-eating forest birds and other insect eaters.

Lake Trout, Lake and Mountain Whitefish, Arctic Cisco, Longnose Sucker, Arctic Grayling, Dolly Varden, Burbot, Walleye, and Northern Pike are among the many fish species able to thrive in the Taiga Plain's cold, nutrient-poor lakes and rivers. 

Taiga Shield Ecozone

One of the most spectacular wildlife displays in the Taiga Shield is the explosive return of ducks, loons, geese, and swans during the spring migration. The area's abundant water attracts hundreds of thousands of birds, which come to nest or simply feed and rest before journeying farther north to arctic breeding grounds. As an ecological crossroads between two very different ecosystems -- the boreal and the arctic -- the ecozone offers a relatively wide variety of habitats for birds. Lakes, wetlands, and forests are interwoven with open shrublands and sedge meadows more typical of the tundra. The consequent overlap of arctic and boreal bird species gives this area a special richness. At the southern limit of their summer range are such species as the Arctic Tern, while a host of other water birds, including the Common Tern and White-throated Sparrow, reach their northern limit on the Taiga Shield. Among the mammals of the ecozone are Barren-ground Caribou, which migrate south from the tundra to their winter range in the taiga forest. Close to a million Caribou from the Bathurst, Beverly, and Qaminirjuaq herds in the Northwest Territories, and the Leaf River and George River herds of northern Quebec and Labrador, make this journey each fall and return to calve on the tundra each spring. Mice, Voles, Shrews, Weasels, Canids, and other carnivores, plus all the tundra dwellers such as the Grizzly Bear and Arctic Fox, make regular visits to the trees of the Taiga Shield. In all, there are about 50 species of mammals inhabiting the ecozone. The ecozone's waters, meanwhile, are home to Lake Trout, Lake Whitefish, Arctic Grayling, Burbot, and Northern Pike. 

Hudson Plains Ecozone

Summer on the Hudson Plain sees the greatest numbers and variety of wildlife. It is associated with the nesting and rearing stages of millions of Snow Geese, which migrate to Canadian wetlands from areas as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. Other migratory bird species returning to these lowlands include Canada Goose, Black Duck, Oldsquaw, King Eider, Pintail and Whistling Swan. While fewer in number, upland bird species such as Willow Ptarmigan, Spruce Grouse, Snow Owl, and Raven can also be found and are among the few year-round residents. Osprey, Gyrfalcon, Duck Hawk and Peregrine Falcon are birds of prey reported in the area. Small mammals include Muskrat, Ermine, Weasel, Marten and Wolverine. Large mammals have traditionally been more abundant in the interior Shield country to the south, but Woodland Caribou, Moose, Black Bear and Timber Wolves are not unknown. Other species include the Canada Lynx, Snowshoe Hare, and Striped Skunk.

Closer to the coast are such species as Polar Bear, which ventures onto the sea ice in winter, and Arctic Fox. Marine mammals include Walrus, Bearded, Ringed and Harbour seals, along with Beluga Whale and the rare Bowhead whales.

Famous in many arctic areas are the clouds of insects. In summer the abundant and poorly drained wetlands provide the ideal breeding ground for massive numbers of mosquitoes and other biting insects. An area of one hectare can produce more than 10 000 000 mosquitoes. Black Fly and No-see-um are other pests to humans and wildlife.

The common fish found in inland streams and lakes are Brook Trout, Northern Pike and Walleye. Some, including the Brook Trout, are migratory, wintering in the interior lakes and summering in the river mouths and estuaries of Hudson Bay. 


Boreal Cordillera Ecozone

The profound effect of the ecozone’s climate on wildlife is especially apparent during late summer, when many species migrate south to avoid the abrupt transition to cooler autumn weather and the long cold winters that follow. Moose and Caribou are the most abundant and widespread ungulates. Valley bottoms provide the best winter range for both species, but much of this ecozone is abandoned by mid-winter because of deep snow. Mountain Goats are year-round inhabitants and tend to avoid the deep snow because of the steep terrain they inhabit. Stone Sheep are found on steep south-facing grasslands associated with rugged terrain. Dall Sheep, Grizzly Bear and Black Bear are also present. Other typical forest species are the Spruce Grouse, Common Raven, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Three-toed Woodpecker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red Squirrel, Wolverine and Marten.

No reptiles are present and the Western Toad, Wood Frog and Spotted frog are the only amphibians.

The many open and shrubby valley bottoms are important as summer range for Moose and Caribou, but are too exposed and snowy to be used as winter range. The Willow Ptarmigan, Arctic Ground Squirrel and Wilson's Warbler are common in these areas. 

Boreal Plains Ecozone

Human activities have divided the original ecosystems of the Boreal Plains into fragments. As a result, most wildlife populations and their habitats have greatly diminished. Although logging is believed to be partly responsible for an increase in Moose populations since 1955, forest habitat has been lost steadily to timber harvesting. Fish in major rivers and lakes must now face subsistence and commercial fisheries and an array of recreational activities. Within these aquatic ecosystems, there is concern for high-value fish stocks, particularly Walleye and Sauger, which are sought after by both commercial and recreational fishers. Habitats also suffer from increasing water consumption and toxic farm run-off.

Wetlands form an essential part of wildlife habitat, often surviving forest fires to provide refuge and initial browsing lands for wildlife. River levees also provide productive and sheltered areas, especially during harsh winters. Floodplains and associated marshes form unique waterfowl and Muskrat habitat. Bogs, with their ground and tree lichens, are the main habitat for Woodland Caribou.

The most prominent local species include Timber Wolf, Black Bear, Moose, Woodland Caribou, Mule Deer, Elk, and Beaver. Typical bird species are Gray Jay, Common Loon, White-tailed Sparrow, American Redstart, Canada Warbler and Ovenbird. Game birds found in the region include species of grouse, geese, ducks and ptarmigan. The ecozone's lakes and streams teem with Walleye, Lake Whitefish, Northern Pike, Burbot, Perch, and scattered populations of Lake Trout. Little is known of the insects and arthropod communities.

At least four vertebrate species have disappeared from the area: the Plains Grizzly, Swift Fox, Black-footed Ferret, and Greater Prairie Chicken. Peregrine Falcon (anatum), Mountain Plover, Eskimo Curlew, Piping Plover, and Whooping Crane are endangered, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Threatened species include the Borrowing Owl and Ferruginous Hawk. 

Boreal Shield Ecozone

Each spring the abundance of water in the Boreal Shield Ecozone attracts hundreds of thousands of ducks, loons, geese and swans. They come either to breed or simply rest and feed before flying on to more northerly nesting grounds. Among the more common waterfowl species that summer here are the Bufflehead, American Black Duck, Wood Duck, Ring-necked Duck and Canada Goose. Also found are the Boreal Owl, Great Horned Owl, Evening Grosbeak and Blue Jay. The songbird perhaps most often associated with this part of the Canadian Shield is the White-throated Sparrow.

Among the characteristic mammals of this ecozone are Woodland Caribou, White-tailed Deer, Moose, Black Bear, Wolf, Lynx, Snowshoe Hare, Fisher, Marten and Striped Skunk. The ecozone’s many wetlands, ponds, rivers and lakes provide important habitats for Beaver, Muskrat and Mink.

In the Atlantic marine environment, typical mammals include Grey, Harp and Hooded seals and Sperm, Killer, Atlantic Pilot, Fin and Blue whales. The endangered Northern Right and Bowhead whales and threatened Humpback Whale are also found in this region.

The biologically-rich marine areas off Quebec’s north shore as well as the continental shelf of Newfoundland and Labrador are vital to Canada’s commercial fisheries. The rocky shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Newfoundland coast provide exceptional nesting habitat for many seabirds. Lake Trout, Lake Whitefish, Burbot and Northern Pike are among the most common fish species thriving in the ecozone’s many freshwater lakes and rivers. 

Taiga Cordillera Ecozone

Because of its diversity of habitats, from dense spruce forests to arctic tundra, from alpine mountain peaks to marshy flats, the Taiga Cordillera Ecozone includes a wide array of wildlife species representative of both arctic and temperate climates.

Mammals most common in alpine terrain include the American Pika, Hoary Marmot, Grizzly Bear, and Dall's Sheep. Mountain Goats, which are not really goats at all but members of the antelope family, are found on mountains in southern regions. During the spring and summer, alpine habitats are populated with several tundra-adapted birds, such as the White-tailed Ptarmigan, Horned Lark, and Water Pipit.

Woodland Caribou, Lynx, Marten, and Black Bear are common mammals of the lower forested habitats. Common birds in this zone include the White-winged Crossbill, Varied Thrush, and Gray Jay. River and wetland habitats support several waterfowl species, including Canvasback, Common Golden-eye, Mallard, and the rare Trumpeter Swan.

The Yukon's Old Crow Flats represent only a small part of this ecozone, yet it is a large and notable wetland that has received international recognition. Swans, Canada Geese, and other species nest or stage here each year in the tens of thousands. Another wildlife spectacle is the annual migration of the Porcupine Barren-ground Caribou, a herd of more than 150 000 animals that winters in the northwestern woodlands.

Evidence of this ecozone's wild and unspoiled character is Canada's largest concentration of Wolverines, a species that has been called a true wilderness creature. Like other members of the weasel family, this solitary nomad is curious, bold, and strong. It will fiercely defend its food against the attack of animals many times its size. Renowned for evading traps and robbing the most carefully protected caches of food, the Wolverine plays a leading role in the camp-fire tales of this region. 

Prairies Ecozone

The Prairies Ecozone provides habitat for many animal species. Intermittent sloughs and ponds on the plains offer major breeding, staging, and nesting grounds for migratory waterfowl using the Central North American flyway. More than half of all North American ducks are born in Prairies Ecozone wetlands. River valleys also offer sheltered habitats important to wildlife, especially during the harsh winters. The Prairies offer unique habitat for the Black-tailed Prairie Dog, while its southern region is home to the Short-horned Lizard and Western Rattlesnake. Manitoba provides habitat for Black Bear, Moose, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Beaver, and Red Fox. Also present are various species of frog and toad. Local fish include Walleye, Lake Whitefish, and Northern Pike.

Considering its area and population, the Prairies Ecozone has a disproportionate number of threatened and endangered wildlife species. At least four vertebrate species -- the Plains Grizzly, Swift Fox, Black-footed Ferret, and Greater Prairie Chicken -- have disappeared from the area. The Peregrine Falcon, Mountain Plover, Eskimo Curlew, Piping Plover, Burrowing Owl, and Whooping Crane are all endangered.

Agriculture has probably had the greatest impact on the ecozone. By replacing natural grasslands with crops, draining wetlands, and destabilizing natural chemical balances in the soil with pesticides, the number and range of wildlife species has changed dramatically. As well, competing, non-native species have been introduced.

Within aquatic ecosystems, high-value fish stocks are under pressure, particularly Walleye and Sauger, which are prized by commercial and recreational fishers. Stocks have been reduced through overfishing and are sensitive to water quality in the controlled-drainage systems as well as to natural fluctuations. For example, contaminants from the widespread use of pesticides have damaged fish habitat. [20[

Montane Corillera Ecozone

Wildlife is as diverse as the vegetative cover. In the alpine tundra, the snowpack does not melt until well into summer and plantlife is sparse. Several species have adapted to the harsh climate, including Mountain Goat, Gyrfalcon, White-tailed and Willow Ptarmigan, Water Pipit and Rosy Finch. Mule Deer, Rocky Mountain Elk, Stone Sheep, Grizzly Bear and Black Bear are common in lush meadow habitats and the stunted spruce groves known as krummholz.

Throughout the middle and upper elevations ungulates such as Mountain Goat, Moose, Caribou and Mule Deer are common. Rocky Mountain Elk, Bighorn Sheep, White-tailed Deer and Stone Sheep are found less frequently. Grizzly Bear and Black Bear are the most common large mammals. The conifer forests are also important habitat for fur-bearers such as Marten, Fisher, Red Squirrel and Wolverine and a diverse collection of birds that feed on conifer seeds, bark insects and small mammals. Common birds include Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Clark's Nutcracker and Red Cross-bill.

Ponderosa Pine parklands provide habitat for species that forage on large conifer seeds (Clark's Nutcracker, Pygmy Nuthatch and Yellow-pine Chipmunk), bark insects (Northern Flicker and White-headed Woodpecker) or flying insects (Common Poorwill). The open forest canopy passes sufficient light for the production of shrubs palatable to wintering ungulates (Mule Deer and White-tailed Deer). Dense stands of Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine, meanwhile, provide a warm cover for wintering ungulates and an abundant seed and insect source for a variety of birds, small mammals, and coyotes.

The treeless bunchgrass areas are small relative to the adjacent forests, but they have an abundance and diversity of wildlife. This is partly due to the wide range of habitats created by the juxtaposition of grasslands, shrublands, wetlands and forest. The grasslands also represent a northern extension of the intermontane steppe of the western Great Basin in the south. Southern species such as Pallid Bat, Burrowing Owl and Short-horned Lizard reach their northern breeding limit here. On the other hand, northern species that rarely move further south, such as Snowy Owl and Gyrfalcon, can be found on open rangelands in winter.

Encroachment and pressures of development on the grasslands and lower slopes of many of the valleys within this ecozone have led to the destruction of habitat for many indigenous species. In 1995, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) listed seven mammals that inhabit this ecozone as vulnerable. COSEWIC also lists 10 bird species as either vulnerable or threatened and four -- Mountain Plover, Sage Thrasher, Burrowing Owl and Peregrine Falcon (anatum) -- as endangered. Four fish species and seven plants are also listed by COSEWIC. 

Pacific Maritime Ecozone

Characteristic land mammals of this area include the Black-tailed Deer, Black and Grizzly bears, Mountain Lion (or Cougar), Fisher, and American Pika. Bird species unique to this area include the American Black Oyster Catcher, Tufted Puffin, Chestnut-backed Chickadee and, in southern regions only, the California and Mountain Quail. Other representative birds are the Northern Saw-whet Owl, Northern Pygmy Owl, Steller's Jay, Bald Eagle and Blue Grouse.

Several species and subspecies of wildlife evolved on the islands of the region: the Vancouver Island Marmot, found only in alpine meadows on Vancouver Island; the "Blond" or "Kermodei" bear, a subspecies of Black Bear found on a few north coastal islands; and the Roosevelt Elk, among others. Some are rare or endangered; others, such as the Dawson Caribou, once confined to Graham Island, are extinct.

The marine ecosystems of the ecozone support a tremendous abundance and diversity of organisms. Many seabirds, including the little-known Marbled Murrelet, nest along the coast. The area's many islands, estuaries and fiords provide critical habitat for countless migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, including the Trumpeter Swan and Sandhill Crane. Contributing to the richness of the ecosystem are a shallow continental shelf, ice-free coastal waters, deep-water upwellings of nutrients, and numerous freshwater discharges from coastal rivers.

Typical marine mammals include the Northern Sea Lion, Northern Fur Seal, Harbour Seal, and a host of whales: the giant Beaked Whale, Sperm Whale, Grey Whale, Killer Whale, Pacific Pilot Whale and Blue Whale. The endangered Sea Otter has been reintroduced to the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. Several species of salmon and their spawning streams are located throughout the ecozone. Pacific Herring and Pacific Halibut are also found here. Common freshwater species include the Cutthroat Trout, Dolly Varden, and Steelhead. 


Atlantic Maritime Ecozone

Although the ecozone represents only 2% of Canada, it embraces a wide variety of critical terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments. Kelp and seaweed along rocky coasts provide shelter and food for various marine communities of mussels and crab. The Scotian Shelf off Nova Scotia is one of the most productive offshore areas in the ecozone. Low-lying beaches and tidal flats of the Upper Bay of Fundy and the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence are dominated by burrowing crustaceans. The Gulf is well-known for its scallop, mackerel, groundfish, and herring fisheries. Seals, dolphins, porpoises and Black Guillemots are among the higher predators within the ecozone. Both seal- and whale-watching are popular tourist attractions.

Rivers draining the area are vital for the commercially important Atlantic Salmon and other ocean fish that return to inland streams to spawn. Brook Trout, Gaspereau, Halibut, and Bass are highly valued by recreational and commercial fishers.

Lakes and shaded waterways within forests supply habitat for herons, loons, and freshwater ducks, while osprey and eagles nest in tall trees. Canada Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, and 31 other bird species breed exclusively in the unique freshwater habitats of the Atlantic region. Tens of thousands of shore and migratory birds feed on crustaceans in the tidal mudflats of the Bay of Fundy. With productive seas and substantial coastal estuaries, the Atlantic Maritime Ecozone is often referred to as “an international crossroads for seabirds.

Much of the ecozone's wildlife is dependent on forest ecosystems. Terrestrial mammals include Black Bear, Bobcat, Snowshoe Hare, Northern Flying Squirrel, and White-tailed Deer. Large moose herds concentrate in various regions, especially in the heart of the Chics-Chocs mountains of the Gaspé Peninsula. Wolves, Mink, and the occasional Lynx also reside in the ecozone.

Alteration and loss of habitat from human activities are the greatest threat to wildlife. Fragmented landscapes and species decline can be attributed to logging, agriculture, overfishing, and urbanization. The Grey Whale has disappeared from the Atlantic after centuries of hunting. The endangered status of the Acadian Whitefish is the result of overfishing and water quality degradation from acid rain and other contaminants. The threatened Roseate Tern's feathers were exploited by the fashion trade of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, the species is challenged by expanding Herring Gull populations preying on its eggs and chicks.

Many initiatives have been taken to preserve the ecozone's unique fauna. Provincial regulations and protected areas help maintain species and habitat. Machias Seal Island, a migratory bird sanctuary in the Bay of Fundy, is home to the only colonies of the Atlantic Puffin and Razorbill in New Brunswick. Several species also seek refuge in the ecozone's six national parks. The threatened Blanding's Turtle population, for example, is almost exclusively confined to acidic waters and peaty soils within Kejimkujik National Park.

Mixed Wood Plains Ecozone

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River were primary attractions for early settlers to the Mixedwood Plains, and not only as a travel route. The waterways supported a tremendous wealth of fish and other aquatic species that stimulated economic growth and regional development. The Great Lakes were once dominated by large, bottom-dwelling species such as Lake Trout, Whitefish, and Sturgeon. Walleye and Largemouth Bass flourished in sheltered bays and the warm, shallow Lake Erie.

For decades aquatic communities have suffered from the effects of intense commercial fishing and habitat destruction. Many spawning and feeding areas have been lost to siltation, pollution, and dredging. Centuries of overfishing forced the Great Lakes commercial fisheries to focus primarily on introduced non-native species, such as Rainbow Smelt, White Perch, and Common Carp. Today the St. Lawrence River and its marine habitats support a diverse collection of aquatic species, including Atlantic Tomcod, Northern Pike, baleen whales and the endangered Beluga Whale.

The introduction of various exotic species is also responsible for serious economic and ecological damage. Both the Sea Lamprey and Zebra Mussel, for example, have dramatically altered aquatic ecosystems. The Zebra Mussel, aggressively spreading through most of the ecozone s waterways since 1986, has disrupted food chains by reducing phytoplankton and zooplankton populations.

Numerous bird species, including the Cardinal, Green Heron, and Carolina Wren, are unique to the Mixedwood Plains Ecozone. Typical residents of remnant forest patches and urban greenspace include Blue Jay, Whip-poor-will, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Baltimore Oriole populations. The Long Point Biosphere reserve in southern Ontario now plays a vital continental role in the protection of migratory bird habitat. Attracted to extensive marshes for staging and overwintering purposes, roughly 280 bird species have been banded in the region since 1960. For the Henslow's Sparrow, however, habitat protection has been minimal. A native to meadows and abandoned agricultural fields in southern Ontario, the sparrow was declared endangered by COSEWIC in 1993. Long-term population declines are related to intense cultivation and urban sprawl.

Two of the three reptiles listed as threatened by COSEWIC reside within the Mixedwood Plains ecozone. The eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, commonly perceived as dangerous, is restricted to diminishing wetlands in Ontario. Stretches of the St. Lawrence River, as well as lakes St. Clair, Erie, Ontario, and Champlain, are home to the increasingly rare Spiny Softshell Turtle.

Forests and grasslands support a wide variety of terrestrial organisms in the Mixedwood Plains. Characteristic mammals include White-tailed Deer, Black Bear, eastern Cottontail, and Grey and Black Squirrels. Foxes and wolves make appearances outside urban settings, while coastal wetlands and tributaries provide crucial habitat for beaver and muskrat. Although many species have lost varying degrees of habitat to urban expansion, a handful have proved resilient. Nuisance animals, such as raccoons, house mice, and groundhogs, have found special niches within urban ecosystems and thrive there.


  • Canada' Biodiversity -

Photocredit for Background

Athabasca Falls Jasper - PiConsti - Flickr


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