Search for "Arctic Animals"

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Bowhead Whale

The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is a large baleen whale living in Arctic waters. Two populations are found in Canada: the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea population and the Eastern Canada-West Greenland population. During the summer, the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea population is found in the waters of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, while the Eastern Canada-West Greenland population is found in Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound, Hudson Strait, Foxe Basin, northwest Hudson Bay and the channels and fjords of the Arctic Archipelago. Commercial whaling began in the 1500s and ended around 1915. Both populations of bowhead whale were severely reduced by this industry. While their numbers have increased, other challenges, such as climate change and oil and gas development, pose threats to bowhead whales.

Editorial

Endangered Arctic Animals

The list of endangered animals in Canada is long:

456 as of 2013, over 40 per cent of which face imminent extinction.

While these animals make their home in every province and territory, some of the reasons for their decline — including climate change and habitat destruction — are easiest to observe in the Arctic. For example, scientists note that temperatures near the North Pole are rising twice as fast as the rest of the world, meaning sea ice — a crucial competent to Arctic ecosystems — is rapidly disappearing. Meanwhile, the Inuit are observing changes in animal migration patterns and population numbers, both of which affect their traditional hunting practices.

This exhibit highlights six of the animals struggling to adapt to changes in the Arctic: the polar bear, caribou, narwhal, bowhead whale, beluga and walrus. Images by internationally-renowned photographer Paul Nicklen introduce each of the animals, while excerpts from The Canadian Encyclopedia provide information on each species’ specific challenges. To complete the series, Yellowknife-based journalist Ashleigh Gaul pays tribute to the walrus hunt, making the connection between the loss of animal habitat and the loss of Inuit culture.

Article

Weasel

The weasel is a small, long-bodied, carnivorous mammal of the family Mustelidae. Three species of weasels are found in Canada: the short-tailed weasel, also known as the ermine or stoat (Mustela erminea), the long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata), and the least weasel (Mustela nivalis). The least weasel is the smallest species in the order carnivora. The genus Mustela also includes mink, black-footed ferret, and the introduced European ferret.

Article

Wild Turkeys in Canada

The wild turkey (Meleaagris gallopavo) is a species of bird native to North America. There are six subspecies of M. gallopavo, two of which have populations in Canada: the Eastern wild turkey, M. gallopavo silvestris and Merriam’s wild turkey, M. gallopavo merriami. The Eastern wild turkey is native to southern Ontario and Quebec, while Merriam’s wild turkey was introduced to Manitoba in 1958 and to Alberta in 1962. In the 1960s, Merriam’s wild turkey naturally expanded their range from the northwestern United States into southern British Columbia. Today, Merriam’s wild turkey can also be found in Saskatchewan.

Article

Midge

Midges are small, slender-bodied flies with long antennae, belonging to various families. Three families are especially important: non-biting midges (Chironomidae), biting midges (Ceratopogonidae, also called no-see-ums), and gall midges (Cecidomyiidae). In Canada, there are more than 1,300 named species of midges from these groups, and scientists expect at least as many more live here. The larvae of most non-biting and biting midges are aquatic, while most larval gall midges live and feed inside of growths on plant tissues. Midges are found all across Canada and in a variety of habitats.

Article

Endangered Animals in Canada

Many animals in Canada face the risk of extinction. Animals are put at risk for several reasons, including: climate change, the loss of forest and grassland to cities and agriculture, hunting, fishing, and the pollution of lakes and rivers. As of 2018, a total of 771 species were considered at risk in Canada, including 531 animals. (Other species at risk include plants; see also Endangered Plants in Canada.)

Article

Henry Hudson

Henry Hudson, mariner, explorer (born c. 1570 in England; disappeared 1611). Hudson was among a long list of explorers who searched in vain for a northern passage through Arctic waters from Europe to East Asia. He made four voyages historians are aware of, in 1607, 1608, 1609 and 1610–11. While he never found a route, in Canada, Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait are named for him, as well as the Hudson River in New York state. He disappeared, along with his son and seven companions, after being set adrift in a ship’s boat during a mutiny on James Bay in June 1611. (See also Northwest Passage; Arctic Exploration.)

timeline event

NWT Premiere Calls for Investment in Arctic Ports

Speaking at the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region summit in Saskatoon, Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod called for the development of three ports in the territory and more icebreakers to support increased shipping traffic in the rapidly warming Arctic. “It’s getting harder to resupply our communities,” he said. “We rely a lot on ice roads. Their life span is getting shorter and shorter… It’s very timely now to do some strategic investing and planning.” McLeod also called for a stronger military presence in the Arctic, an increase in immigrants to the region and more investment in research facilities. (See also: Canadian Arctic Sovereignty.)

timeline event

Scientists Say Canada’s Warming Is Twice the Global Rate and Is “Effectively Irreversible”

A report issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada that was based on the work of more than 40 scientists concluded that Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Canada’s average temperature is 1.7°C higher than it was 70 years ago, while average temperature during winter is 3.3°C higher, and average temperature in the Arctic is 2.3°C higher. The report stated that the effects of climate change are “effectively irreversible” and will last for “centuries.”

Article

Canadian Inuit Dog

The Canadian Inuit dog (Canis familiaris borealis) is one of five Canadian dog breeds recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club. While the Club refers to this breed as the “Canadian Eskimo dog,” the Government of Nunavut calls it the Canadian Inuit dog and made it the territory’s official animal. In the Eastern Baffin dialect of Inuktitut the dog is called qimmiq (spelled Kimmik in other dialects). For hundreds of years, these dogs were used by the Inuit and their ancestors to pull sleds as a means of transportation. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other government officials killed thousands of sled dogs, rendering the breed extinct. Since then a revitalization program has helped reestablish the Canadian Inuit dog. As of 2018, there are approximately 300 Canadian Inuit dogs registered with the Canadian Kennel Club.

Article

Tuktoyaktuk

Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, incorporated as a hamlet in 1970, population 898 (2016 census), 854 (2011 census). The Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk is located on the coast of the Beaufort Sea, east of the Mackenzie River delta, and 1,135 km northwest of Yellowknife by air. Tuktoyaktuk, commonly referred to as Tuk, is a transportation and government centre, as well as a base for oil and natural gas exploration.

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Arctic Ocean Will Be Ice-Free in 50 Years, Study Warns

In a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers at the University of California concluded that if global carbon emissions maintain their current pace, the Arctic Ocean will be almost entirely ice-free at least part of every year by sometime between 2044 and 2067. Currently, Arctic ice covers about 4.5 million km2 at its lowest amount each September — a sharp reduction from the historic level of around 6 million km2. The study predicts that 50 years from now, ice will only cover about 1 million km2 of the Arctic Ocean, mostly close to land, leaving the open ocean virtually ice-free. (See also: Climate Change; Endangered Arctic Animals.)

timeline event

Death of the Last Sable Island Horse in Captivity

Veterinarians at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park near Halifax euthanized an unnamed, 30-year-old Sable Island Horse. It was the last of its kind in captivity. Its death reignited a longstanding debate about what to do with the 400 or so feral horses that live on Sable Island. The invasive species was introduced to the island — a remote spit about 300 km east of Nova Scotia — in the 1750s. They have stripped it of virtually all vegetation. About 10 per cent of the herd dies every year due to starvation.

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Canada Files Claim for North Pole

After years of research costing more than $100 million, Canada submitted its bid for control of a large part of the Arctic seabed to the UN Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf. Russia and Denmark had already filed their claims, and the United States and Norway were expected to follow suit. The process of determining who has sovereignty over the Arctic, and control over resources there, is expected to take years.

Article

Agriculture in Canada

Agriculture is the practice of growing crops and rearing animals mainly for food. Farmers also produce other items such as wool from sheep and CBD oil from hemp plants.

In Canada, agriculture is an important industry. Only about 7 per cent of Canada’s land can be farmed. Other marginal (poorer) land can be used to ranch cattle. Aquaculture operations are found on the East and West Coasts and in the Great Lakes. Some crops such as tomatoes, cannabis and flowers are grown in greenhouses in urban centres. Canadian agriculture faces many challenges. Some of these challenges concern crop protection, soil conservation, labour, climate change and health.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Ottawa Releases Long-Awaited Arctic Development Policy

After extensive consultations with First Nations and territorial governments, the federal government released its policy on developing the Canadian Arctic. It had been in the works since 2017. Eight priorities were identified, with health, infrastructure and economic development leading the way. However, many criticized the policy for not including specifics on how it would be implemented. International law professor and Arctic expert Michael Byers said, “In terms of an actual plan, there’s very little here.”  

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Arctic Winter Games

The Arctic Winter Games (AWG) are biennial games initiated in 1970 to provide northern athletes with opportunities for training and competition, and to promote cultural and social interchange among northern peoples. Although the Games originated in North America, they have grown to include athletes from other parts of the world, including Greenland and parts of Russia, including Magadan, Sápmi and Yamal.

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Inuit Group Releases Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami released a 48-page plan for adapting to a changing climate in the Arctic, which is warming twice as quickly as the rest of the planet. “Inuit have decided we are going to seek a partnership with the Government of Canada and start to adapt any way we can through coordinated action,” said Natan Obed, the head of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. The plan calls for improvements to infrastructure threatened by thawing permafrost, increased spending on transportation, improvements to telecommunications and the incorporation of traditional Inuit knowledge in building codes and practices.