Game is the term used for animals hunted for sport and/or food. In different parts of the world, types of game differ. Below is a list of Canada’s most popular big game animals.
The Black Bear inhabits heavily forested areas across Canada. They grow to between 1.5 – 1.8 meters (5 – 6 ft.) long and may weigh from 90 – 150 kg. (200 – 330 lb.) When meat or grubs are not available Black Bears will eat berries, fruit, and other plant material. Although they tend to shy away from humans, lack of readily available food can cause them to be scavengers. The range is not large, generally roaming a territory of no more than 36 sq. km. (14 sq. mi.)
The woodland Caribou frequent the northern swampy forested habitats of Canada while the northern Caribou wander the Arctic tundra. These large animals move continuously and migrate in very large herds. Both male and female Caribou have large branching antlers that are irregular in shape with the females being smaller and more slender. Males can exceed 320 kg. (700 lb.) in weight and stand up to 1.4 meters (4.6 ft.) at the shoulder. Colours vary by season from brown in the summer to almost white in the northern reaches. Caribou eat grasses and low lying vegetation. They are known for consuming large quantities of lichen called reindeer moss that grows in the tundra region. Their large spreading hooves are well suited for stability on the soft mucky summer surface and the winter snow.
The Cougar, also known as mountain lion or puma, may grow to 1.8 meters (6 ft.) long and weigh more than 91 kg. (200 lb.) They inhabit western Canada near higher elevations of forest. Cougarshunt at night and are typical of the cat family being excellent climbers and jumpers. Litters with one to five young are born two years apart.
Through intensive game management, the White-tailed Deer have become the most numerous large game animal in the country. A buck may weigh up to 213 kg. (470 lb.) and stand taller than 1.1 meters (3.5 ft.) at the shoulders. Bucks develop a pair of spiked antlers in the fall of their second year. The antlers are shed after the autumn mating ritual, usually between January and April, and a larger set is grown. The doe is antlerless and smaller. They give birth to fawns that are identifiable by the white spots on their reddish – brown coat. Deer have a very keen sense of smell and generally travel into the wind unless pushed. A smaller member of the species, the Mule Deer, is found in western Canada.
The Elk or wapiti, is a member of the deer family found primarily in the lower Canadian Rockies. Bulls have massive antlers that may span more than 1.5 meters (5 ft.) They grow to 1.5 meters (5 ft.) at the shoulders and may weigh up to 350 kg. (770 lb.) Elkroam in herds moving from their summer habitat in the mountains to the valleys in the winter. During the fall mating season bulls often challenge each other and battle by locking horns until one falls and is forced to leave the herd. Occasionally both animals will permanently lock horns during the violent duel and perish.
The Grizzly Bear is found in regions of western Canada where the mountain rivers provide them the salmon that form part of their diet. These large bears grow to 2.8 meters (9 ft.) in length in may weigh up to 410 kg. (900 lb.) In spite of their size and apparent clumsiness, bears can run up to 40 km (25 mi) per hour. The name Grizzly derives from the white tips on the brown fur. Except during mating season, bears are solitary animals roaming their own territory.
The Moose is the largest member of the deer family. It is a massive animal standing as tall as 2.3 meters (7.5 ft.) at the shoulders. Large bulls may weigh up to 825 kg. (1,820 lb.) with racks known to reach 2 meters (6.6 ft.) across. Hunting season generally begins after the rut in September when bulls may still answer a call. They are found primarily in moist woods and may wade into lakes to feed on aquatic plants, especially water lilies. It is unlawful to hunt moose while they are swimming. The cow gives birth to one, possibly two, and occasionally three calves in the spring.
Throughout the year wildlife viewing is possible in Canada wilderness where you can approach and observe many of these species up close in pristine natural environments.