Canada > Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories Photo Album

Photos courtesy of NWT Tourism

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Additional Information

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The Northwest Territories is one of the few places in the world where the wildlife is free to move, unhindered by people. Visitors can see great herds of animals roaming a habitat just as they have done for thousands of years.

There are over 700,000 caribou in the NWT - that’s 17 caribou for every person living in the territory. Barrenground caribou migrate in vast herds in the eastern and northern ranges of the Northwest Territories. Four herds, one ranging east from Alaska, and two ranging west from Nunavut, travel hundreds of kilometres across the Northwest Territories through the seasons. They can be seen in autumn and winter on the barrenlands, or in the mountains west of the Mackenzie delta. In summer, canoeists may encounter caribou grazing beside a northern river. Let our guides and outfitters take you there.

Bears - polar bears, grizzly bears and black bears are scattered across the Northwest Territories. Polar bears hunt the coastal ice floes north of the mainland, and can be seen in spring, hunting seals. They eat sedge and berries, but are primarily meat eaters. Grizzlies roam the barrengrounds as far north as the Arctic coast, and can be found in the mountains between the NWT and Yukon, usually in open areas. They are omnivorous, eating sedges and berries, hunting some animals, and scavenging winter-killed carcasses as melting snow reveals them in spring. Black bears are found in
the forest regions of the NWT, and are frequently seen from the highways. They eat mainly vegetation, but will scavenge meat and more rarely hunt small animals. Less aggressive than polar or grizzly bears, black bears are still more than a match for a human.

Wood bison, the largest land mammal in North America, now roam freely in two bison preserves and two unprotected areas in the Northwest Territories. Pure wood bison are found near Fort Liard on the Liard Highway. The largest free roaming herd makes its home north of Fort Providence on the Mackenzie Highway. They also range the Slave River watershed. Bison can often be spotted from the road in Wood Buffalo National Park. Park animals are a cross between plains bison and wood bison.

Wolves are almost as abundant in the Northwest Territories as they were at any time in the past. Very little of their habitat has been destroyed, and their ability to move from place to place and change their prey has allowed them to survive successfully. They can be seen, usually by river travellers, on the open tundra, following the caribou.

Muskoxen are thought to have migrated from Asia, about 90,000 years ago. Great, woolly
creatures, they feed on sedges and grasses on the tundra. They are found on the barrenlands, north of Great Bear Lake, and on the Arctic islands of the Northwest Territories. Hunted almost to extinction in the late 1800s, they have been protected for many years, and now are considered a come-back success story. Visitors can view muskoxen on Banks Island, and along the banks of the Thelon River.

Moose are the largest members of the deer family, standing about two metres at the shoulder. With exceptionally long legs, they can travel through deep snow, or wade in reedy ponds to forage for food. They can be seen throughout the treed area of the Northwest Territories, often in areas recently affected by forest fire.

Dall’s Sheep are alpine animals, found in the Mackenzie Mountains and the Richardson
Mountains. Their white coats and distinctive curled horns are a delight to photographers, and they are easy to spot on the steep mountain sides.When startled, they return to these rocky slopes where few predators can follow. They feed on herbs, shrubs and lichens, fattening up in the fall in order to survive the harsh northern winters.

Hawks, golden and bald eagles, osprey and falcons are all protected in the Northwest Territories. These birds of prey are sharp eyed, patient hunters, often soaring for many minutes before sighting and pouncing on prey. They can be seen soaring above our lakes, rivers and highways. Snowy owls and hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, swans, American white pelicans, cranes as well as songbirds follow North American flyways to the Northwest Territories each spring to nest and rear their young. The Peace-Athabasca Delta in Wood Buffalo National Park is a vital stopping point and nesting ground for many migratory birds from all corners of North and South America. Every lake and pond seems to boast a family of birds through the Arctic summer.

In the sea, bowhead, beluga and occasionally orca (killer whale) can be found along the Beaufort Sea coast. These largely undisturbed populations appear to number in the thousands. Both beluga and bowhead whales favour the estuaries of the Mackenzie River, and can be spotted from Inuvialuit camps dotted along the Arctic coast.

To help you enjoy your adventure, the Northwest Territories offers many different types of accommodations. Anything from fancy hotels, motels and fishing camps, to comfy bed and breakfasts. Wilderness lodges and chalets to sight seeing camping adventures. No matter your age or budget, the Northwest Territories has a special place for you to stay with endless possibilities and adventures.

Wording courtesy of NWT Tourism
Photos courtesy of NWT Tourism

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