Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada
Wood Buffalo National Park is home to many species of wildlife typical of the northern boreal forest. Bears, wolves, moose, lynx, marten, wolverines, foxes, beavers and snowshoe hares are but a few of the wild mammal species found. Common bird species include sandhill cranes, hawks, eagles and owls.
Wolf in meadow
© Parks Canada / Ken Houseman
Despite their abundant presence, the wild animals of the park are elusive. Tracks and scats can be seen along hiking trails and roads, but actual sightings are often random and due to chance.
The park is perhaps best known for its free-roaming wild bison herd, the largest self-regulating bison herd in the world. The bison wander freely through the forests and plains of the park. Although they can sometimes be viewed along the park roads, like the other wild animals they are often elusive and sightings cannot be guaranteed.
Another interesting species is the red-sided garter snake. The most northerly known hibernaculum of this species is located at the Salt River Day-use Area in the park. Every spring, towards the end of April, the snakes make an above-ground appearance for mating prior to migrating to their summer feeding grounds.
The park protects the last remaining wild nesting area of the endangered whooping crane, as well as some nesting sites of the threatened peregrine falcon. Due to their remoteness and fragile nature, there is no public access to these sites.
Snowgeese © Parks Canada / C.Wershler
Birdwatchers may be interested in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, one of the largest inland freshwater deltas in the world. Migratory birds from all four North American flyways pass through the delta in the spring and fall. The delta may be accessed by water from the isolated community of Fort Chipewyan. Motorized access is restricted in some areas. Contact the Visitor Reception Centre for more information.
Key Spots for Wildlife Viewing:
Salt Plains Viewpoint
Salt Plains © Parks Canada
Grosbeak Lake (access from Salt River Trail, South Loop)
Birdwatching at Grosbeak Lake © Parks Canada / W.Lynch
Bison in the meadows at Sweetgrass © Parks Canada / W.Lynch