Québec’s unspoilt landscapes, lush forests, over a million lakes and pristine waterways including the mighty Saint Lawrence River make the province a haven for more than 650 species of fauna, including 90 mammals and 300 birds.
Each year nature lovers travel from across the globe to see Québec’s spectacular wildlife in its natural habitat. With three main climates and four distinct seasons, it’s no surprise that wildlife flourishes in Québec’s natural environment and there are a wide range of wildlife watching opportunities for visitors throughout the year.
Between May and October, Québec’s Saint Lawrence River comes alive during the migration of 13 species of whale, including the majestic blue whale. Each year the river becomes the seasonal residence of the largest group of blue whales in the Northern Hemisphere, as the whales migrate here to feed on krill. The best place to spot the whales is at the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord.
A number of whale watching experiences depart from Tadoussac on the north shore and Baie-Sainte-Catherine on the south. Whether aboard a sightseeing boat, zodiac or sea kayak, the tours offer the perfect opportunity to see these gentle giants up close, including blue whales and humpbacks! Guests can also learn more from specialists at the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre in Tadoussac.
Québec is home to the fourth largest wolf population in Canada. More than 7,000 wolves inhabit areas north of the Saint Lawrence River. The grey wolf can be observed year-round and the best places to spot this species can be within protected reserves such as the Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve and Laurentides Wildlife Reserve but there are also several other ways to observe the elusive grey wolf. These range from wolf calling activities to up close and personal encounters with a 30-strong pack of wolves at Parc Mahikan, located in Girardville north of Lac-Saint-Jean.
The moose population of Québec has doubled since the 90s to around 120,000. This North American giant – the biggest antlered animal on the planet.
Moose can be found in nature reserves across Québec, such as the Gaspesie National Park, with guided hikes and photo safaris offering the best way to see these iconic creatures. For more information on wildlife watching in Québec visit: www.quebecoriginal.com
Shy and nomadic, the stately Snowy Owl is the official bird of Québec easily identified as a large, white owl with no ear tufts. Females and young males are flecked black or brown while the male’s plumage becomes immaculate white as it grows older. Unlike most owls, the Snowy owl is diurnal which means that it is active during the day.
This adaptation is not surprising considering daylight is continuous within the Arctic Circle where they birds can be found during much of the summer nesting season. Refuge Pageau in western Québec, which offers shelter to wild animals in need of rehabilitation, also houses a number of snowy owls for visitors to observe.
Of the approximately 800,000 black bears that inhabit North America’s forests, 60,000 can be found in Québec. Visitors can view these timid and iconic creatures across many regions, including Mauricie and the Québec Maritime region. At the Log Inn, located in Aux Berges du St-Maurice guests can bear watch at sunset accompanied by a qualified guide into the ‘bear’s valley’ and seek refuge in the camp as a post to spot the infamous black bear.
Additionally, at Bioparc de la Gaspésie in the Québec Maritime region, a boardwalk has been built to provide visitors with a unique viewpoint from which to observe the bears. Black bears hibernate during the winter months and so summer is the best time of year to spot them.
For those looking to book a wildlife-watching escape to Québec, go to Canadian Affair who offer a seven-day ‘Wild Holiday’ self-drive holiday from £1,353 per person, with an emphasis on experiencing the province’s nature and wildlife. Highlights of this tour include a bear and beaver watching excursion at Saint-Alexis-des-Monts and Station Duchesnay, viewing these impressive creatures in their natural environment and three hour whale watching cruise from Tadoussac.
who offer a seven-day ‘Wild Holiday’ self-drive holiday from £1,353 per person, with an emphasis on experiencing the province’s nature and wildlife. Highlights of this tour include a bear and beaver watching excursion at Saint-Alexis-des-Monts and Station Duchesnay, viewing these impressive creatures in their natural environment and three hour whale watching cruise from Tadoussac.
Guests will begin their journey driving to the Mauricie Region, just a few hours from Montréal, before visiting Jacques Cartier National Park and driving along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River to Québec City.