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Gros Morne National Park of Canada

A Place Mammals Can Call Home

Newfoundland is an island, an important point to keep in mind if you are interested in the animal life of Gros Morne National Park. Starting just over two million years ago, ice ages periodically scoured this Island of its plant and animal life, and covered vast portions of the mainland too. The animals that are now considered native to the Island made their way over in the last 15 000 years, coming from the mainland by swimming, by flying, or by walking across the pack ice.

Long isolation has produced a large number of Newfoundland subspecies: 9 of the Island's 14 native land mammals are distinct from their mainland relatives. Since the arrival of Europeans, there have been both deliberate and accidental introductions of animal species. Even today new species are being brought to the island, or finding their own way across the water and ice.

Land Mammals of Gros Morne National Park
and Insular Newfoundland




Status on the Island

Status in the Park

Shrews Common shrew
(Sorex cinereus)
Introduced Abundant Abundant
Bats Little brown bat
(Myotis lucifugus)
Native Common Common
  Northern long-eared bat**
(Myotis septentrionalis)
Native Common Common
Hares Arctic Hare*
(Lepus arcticus bangsii)
Native Rare Uncommon
  Snowshoe Hare
(Lepus americanus)
Introduced Abundant Abundant
Squirrels Chipmunk
(Tamias striatus)
Introduced Rare Rare
  Red squirrel
(Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
Introduced Abundant Abundant
Beavers American beaver*
(Castor canadensis caecator)
Native Common Common
Rats and Mice Deer Mouse
(Peromyscus maniculatus)
Introduced Common Common
  House Mouse
(Mus musculus)
Introduced Uncommon Uncommon
  Meadow Vole*
(Microtus pennsylvanicus terraenovae)
Native Common Common
  Bank vole
(Clethrionomys glareolus)
Introduced Rare not present
  Red-backed vole
(Clethrionomys gapperi)
Introduced Rare not present
(Ondrata zibethicus obscurus)
Native Rare Rare
  Norway Rat
(Rattus norvegicus)
Introduced Uncommon Uncommon
Canids Wolf*
(Canis lupus beothucus)
Native Extinct Extinct
  Red fox*
(Vulpes vulpes deletrix)
Native Common Common
  Arctic fox
(Alopex lagopus)
Accidental Infrequent Accidental
(Canis latrans)
Native*** Unknown Unknown
Bears Black bear*
(Ursus americanus hamiltoni)
Native Common Common
  Polar bear
(Ursus maritimus)
Accidental Accidental Accidental
Weasels Ermine
(Mustela erminea)
Native Common Common
(Mustela vison)
Introduced Common Common
(Martes americana atrata)
Native Endangered Very Rare
(Lutra canadensis degener)
Native Uncommon Uncommon
Cats Lynx*
(Lynx canadensis subsolanus)
Native Common Uncommon
Deer Caribou
(Rangifer tarandus caribou)
Native Abundant Abundant
(Alces alces)
Introduced Abundant Abundant

* Newfoundland subspecies
** Formerly Keen's bat (Myotis keeni)
*** New arrival, first sightings 1987

Relative Abundance:Abundant: Numerous
Common: Widespread but not abundant
Uncommon: Not widespread, may be locally abundant or may be widespread but occur in low densities.
Rare: Present locally and in very small numbers
Accidental: Occasional visitor, no permanent population
Unknown: Confirmed sightings, insufficient data to estimate population

The Most Asked-About Mammals
Bull (male) moose on roadside, GMNP
Bull (male) moose on roadside, GMNP
© Parks Canada / Michael Burzynski / 1608-052, M2-290, 1996

Two moose were introduced to the island of Newfoundland in 1878 and four moose in 1904. They are now seen in most areas of the Island. There is no legal hunting in Gros Morne National Park, so the moose population is large and serves as a reservoir for stocking the surrounding area. As a matter of fact, the population density of moose in the park is one of the highest recorded in North America!

Moose are the largest member of the deer family; they are dark brown in colour, weigh 385-535 kg and have a shoulder height of 180 cm. Be cautious year-round when driving, especially at dusk or dawn. If you meet a moose on the road, keep your distance, pull off the road, turn off your lights (the moose may be blinded by your headlights), and give it a chance to leave the road. Never approach a moose. Bull moose can be aggressive, particularly during the autumn rut.

Woodland Caribou
Caribou can smell lichens through the snow, and dig shallow craters to reach their food. (GMNP)
Caribou can smell lichens through the snow, and dig shallow craters to reach their food. (GMNP)
© Parks Canada

Woodland caribou are much smaller than moose; a male adult can weigh up to 270kg, and females are about a quarter smaller. They are usually seen on the Long Range traverse and sometimes on Gros Morne Mountain. In recent winters, they have been seen in large numbers on the coastal lowlands north of Berry Hill and St. Paul's. Be alert while driving, as caribou are unpredictable and can cross the road at any time. Learn more about the monitoring of the caribou population in Gros Morne National Park.

Black Bears
Black Bear crossing Lomond road, GMNP
Black Bear crossing Lomond road, GMNP
© Parks Canada / Anne Marceau / 1608-056, M1-699, 1996

Occasionally seen along certain park trails: Stuckless Pond , Lomond , Gros Morne Mountain , and Snug Harbour . The Newfoundland black bear is generally larger than its mainland relatives, ranging in size from 90 to 270 kg and averaging 135 kg. It also has one of the longest hibernation periods of any bear in North America!

Black bears are wary of humans, however they sometimes wander into campsites in search of food. No one has yet been seriously injured by a black bear in Gros Morne National Park. Please do your part to maintain this record by reading the brochure " You are in Black Bear Country " and by following these important procedures:

  • Never eat or keep food in your tent.

  • Stash Your Trash! All waste food and food packaging should be disposed of in garbage containers or taken with you when you leave. A bear attracted to a dirty campsite will be a problem for the next camper.

  • Report any bear that you see to park staff. Prompt reporting allows wardens to remove offending bears to isolated parts of the park before they become habitual offenders and have to be destroyed. The information that you provide is also recorded and used for research about the park's black bear population.

Red Foxes
Red fox on roadside, Southeast Hills, GMNP
Red fox on roadside, Southeast Hills, GMNP
© Parks Canada / Michael Burzynski / 1608-058, M1-643, 1996

Common in Gros Morne National Park and are often seen in areas frequented by humans. Red foxes resemble a small slender dog and range in size from 3.6 to 6.8 kg. Newfoundland's Red Fox comes in a range of colours- red, black, silver, yellowish, and a mixture of colours called a patch phase. Outbreaks of rabies are uncommon in Newfoundland but an Arctic fox variant of rabies can infect red foxes. Rabies should be considered in any wild animal exhibiting abnormal behaviour, including loss of fear, frothing at the mouth, or lack of coordination. Report any suspected cases of rabies to park staff.

Arctic Hare
Arctic Hare on Gros Morne mountain, GMNP
Arctic Hare on Gros Morne mountain, GMNP
© Parks Canada / Daniel Boisclair / 1608-068, M1-532, 1993

These large hare (up to 6kilograms) can be seen on the Long Range traverse and on Gros Morne Mountain. Arctic hares in Newfoundland are the southernmost in the world, and have the lowest reproductive potential of any hare or rabbit in the world- one litter per year with an average of three young! Because of their low numbers, restricted habitat, and low reproduction rate, the park monitors these animals closely. Check out the monitoring program on the Arctic Hare population in Gros Morne National Park.

Aerial view of humpback whale
Aerial view of humpback whale
© Parks Canada / Michael Burzynski / 1608-065, M3-199, 1996

They are uncommon in this area, but small numbers are seen throughout the summer months during the capelin run in June or early July. Bonne Bay and Lobster Cove Head are best places for pilot, minke, humpback and sometimes fin whales. Ask local people or park staff for recent sightings.

Harbour seals
Harbour seals on rocks at St. Paul's Inlet
Harbour seals on rocks at St. Paul's Inlet
© Parks Canada / Sheldon Stone / 1608-077, M3-178, 1991

Usually seen in St. Pauls Inlet during the summer as they often haul out onto rocks to bask at low tide. The boat tour is an excellent way to see harbour seals.