Great Canadian Parks / Northwest Territories

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The Parks / Northwest Territories / Aulavik National Park



 


 

Just 70 years ago, the muskox was on the brink of extinction, its numbers depleted by hide hunters, whalers and explorers. Today, the park is home to a thriving population of more than 80 000 muskoxen whose shaggy hunched appearance may convey the false impression of bovine docility. The muskox is not the only arctic animal roaming the park’s maze of valleys. Approximately 750 of the endangered sub-species of Peary caribou pass through each year as they migrate between their wintering grounds and summer calving grounds. Two species of lemmings, the arctic fox, hare, ermine and wolf enjoy 24-hour sunshine in summer, then face the winter's icy darkness. Marine animals seen along the north coast include the ringed seal, bearded seal, beluga whale and polar bear. In summer, birdlife is plentiful with over 40 species of bird having been recorded. The Banks Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, a designation that applies to the Castel Bay and the lower region of the Thomsen River Valley protects Brant and lesser snow geese sedge meadow molting habitat. Peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, rough-legged hawks and snowy owls are the most common birds of prey. The sandhill cranes, Sabine’s gulls, terns, long-legged Jaegers, Lapland longspurs and the red phalarope nest in the park, but only the raven, two species of ptarmigan and a few snowy owls remain to brave the dark winter.



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