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Quttinirpaaq National Park of Canada


Hare © Parks Canada / Christian Kimber

Land mammals found in Quttinirpaaq National Park include polar bears, arctic wolves, arctic foxes, ermines, muskoxen, Peary caribou, arctic hares, and collared lemmings. Marine mammals include the ringed seal, bearded seal, harp seal (rare), harbour seal (rare), hooded seal (rare), walrus (rare), narwhal, beluga (rare), bowhead whale (rare), and killer whale (rare).

Peary Caribou (Rangifer tarandus pearyi)
Peary caribou, an endangered species, are found in small numbers throughout the lowlands and coastal areas of Quttinirpaaq. Their primary food sources are sedges, mosses, lichens, and arctic willow. Little is known about the seasonal movements and habits of caribou in the park. The caribou are preyed upon by arctic wolves.

Caribou © Parks Canada / Micheline Manseau

Arctic Wolf (Canus lupus arctos)
While arctic wolves are found throughout the park, there is only one known denning area. Scientific evidence suggests that this denning area has been used by the wolves for centuries. To protect the wolves from disturbance, the denning sites are closed to visitor access.

Muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus )
Muskoxen occur throughout the park in valleys that support the growth of sedge meadows. Often seen in the same locations as caribou, the muskoxen feed on arctic willows, grasses, and sedges. They are social animals and are usually found in small groups or herds of between 2 - 24 animals. Muskox cows can produce a calf annually, and most calves are born around late April or early May. Muskoxen can be aggressive and should not be approached by visitors at any time.

Muskox © Parks Canada / Mike Ellesworth

Arctic Hare (Lepus arcticus)
Arctic hares are an important food source for arctic wolves and arctic foxes, especially during the denning season. They are distributed widely throughout the park, and have occasionally been observed in huge herds of up to a thousand animals. Arctic willow is an important part of their herbivorous diet.

Collared lemming (Dicrostonyx greenlandicus)
Lemming populations in the park are neither cyclical nor predictable. Lemmings are the major food source for arctic foxes and other predators, and when lemming populations are low, more birds are consumed as food by foxes, wolves, ermines, and birds of prey. No detailed studies have been conducted on lemmings in the park.

Lemming © Parks Canada / Christian Kimber

Narwhal (Monodon monoceros)
The narwhal is the most common whale in the Quttinirpaaq region. In spring, narwhals migrate northward along the west coast of Greenland and through the offshore pack ice
to northern Baffin Bay. Narwhals have been observed in Lady Franklin Bay, Archer Fiord, and Robeson Channel among other locations.

Narwhal © Canadian Wildlife Service

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
Polar bears seldom venture onto land in the vicinity of Quttinirpaaq because the year-round presence of sea ice allows them to hunt seals all year. However, the possibility exists that they may be encountered inland at any time of the year. Inland movements (the furthest recorded was 40 km inland) are thought to be related to the presence or absence of polynyas or extensive open water at the coasts. Please read the section on polar bear safety for important safety information.

Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)
Walrus are common to the south of Quttinirpaaq, in the ocean waters near Greenland. The only recent documented sighting of a walrus in the park was made by park wardens in 1991 at Discovery Harbour near Fort Conger.

Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida) and Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus)
These are the two most common seal species found in Quttinirpaaq. They are year-round residents of the high arctic and are found in all of the coastal areas. Seals are the primary food source for polar bears.