Algonquin Park Flora and Fauna
Algonquin Provincial Park lies in a transition zone between deciduous forests typical of areas to the south of the Park, and coniferous forests, more typical of areas to the north. The result is that both forest types are found within Park boundaries. Superimposed on this basic meeting of north and south is the variety of other habitats resulting from the Park’s rugged topography and the impact of modern humans. Even a short trip will take you by maple forest, spruce bogs, road edges, beaver ponds, campgrounds, lakes, and cliffs, and each provides different opportunities that are exploited by different plants and animals.
Along with Algonquin’s diversity in habitats comes an associated diversity in plant and animal life. 45 species of mammals, 262 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles and amphibians, 50 species of fish, and approximately 7000 species of insects are known to occur within Algonquin’s boundaries! In addition, there are well over 1000 species of plants and another 1000 plus species of fungi growing in the Park!
Since the late 1970s Algonquin has become the best place in Ontario, perhaps North America, to see moose. Best viewing is in May and June, right along Highway 60. During those months many moose discover the slightly salty water in the road side ditches (resulting from winter sanding operations) and, since they have been starved for sodium all winter, they stay around to take advantage of the unexpected bonanza.
Algonquin Park is famous for its wolves, not only because it has been able to maintain one of the most southerly wolf populations in North America, but also because the wolves are relatively accessible to millions of people without the benefit of special guides or equipment. We feel safe in claiming that more people have had first-hand experience with wolves in Algonquin than in any other place in the world.
Most people visiting Algonquin never actually get a chance to see a wolf – the chances of seeing a shy, timid animal in thickly forested country like Algonquin are few to say the least. The first-hand wolf experience we are speaking of above is its voice – the wolf howl. Many visitors to Algonquin have had the thrill of lying in their tents or sitting around their campfire and hearing in the distance a spine-tingling chorus of wolves. Many more visitors have heard wolves by participating in a Public Wolf Howl – an event that is part of the Park’s Summer Interpretive Program.
Such contact with wolves is useful because it helps dispel some of the misconceptions which most of us have learned to accept without question. Indeed the wolf, perhaps more than any other animal in the world, has had an extremely bad press – ranging from our childhood fairy tales up to lurid modern accounts of huge, savage man-eaters. That 60,000 or more people travel unarmed in the interior of Algonquin each year without mishap should illustrate that wolves are not dangerous to humans.
We are very fortunate in Algonquin to have a population of this magnificent animal, in an area within a few hours drive from major city centres – a claim that unfortunately cannot be made in many other places!
With such a huge diversity of living things it is not surprising that many people are drawn to Algonquin Park to catch a glimpse of a wild animal or to drink in the beauty of a spring wildflower.
Friends of Algonquin Park