Published on September 25th, 2017 | by Miriam Porter
Wild Animals You Can Spot On an Ontario Road Trip.
Wild animals belong in the wild and Canada is home to so many diverse species. In fact, living in Ontario you have probably seen squirrels, raccoons, skunks and dozens of birds flying and roaming at their leisure. But perhaps you didn’t know there are many other creatures living among the forests, ravines, and lakes, some of which you may spot on a road trip. Keep in mind it’s not cool to take a selfie with a wild animal, get too close to them, feed them, or interfere with their lives or the ecosystem where they live in any way. Wildlife is best observed from a safe distance and don’t forget we are the visitors in their home. A road trip in search of wild animals is the perfect opportunity to dust off your old binoculars or purchase a new pair with a good lens.
The majestic Canadian Moose is a symbol representing our nation’s native wildlife. There are several moose-spotting opportunities in Ontario and the best way to encounter a moose, from a safe distance of course, is in a large provincial or national park. It’s important to be as far away from roads or train tracks as possible, so once you arrive at your destination hike on foot. Moose live in Algonquin Provincial Park and it’s crucial to stay alert and look for them on the road as you arrive, and reduce your driving speed. Moose are huge, around 800 pounds, but can get up to 1,800 pounds, so they will not be the only ones hurt in a car accident. In fact, when driving near Algonquin Park there are possible “moose jams” (aka traffic jams due to people watching moose), and flashing lights from another vehicle are a warning to be careful. These herbivores eat all kinds of vegetation, in fact their name comes from the Algonquin word “moz” or “mons” that means twig eater.
Canada’s national animal is a smiling toothy beaver and commonly spotted in the Great White North. Spring is a good time to see beavers in Ontario once the ice melts and the ponds show new signs of life. April in Algonquin Park is typically the best viewing time for beavers. However it’s also possible during summer months to watch beavers swim across the pond, grooming, or searching for a meal. An ideal location for beaver watching in the park is along Opeongo Road just off of Highway 60, as there are multiple beaver ponds and less traffic. Be sure to stay at least 50 feet away from any beavers you may encounter and if they appear stressed from your presence it’s time to leave.
The stunning white tailed deer can be found in Bruce Peninsula National Park, about a four-hour road trip from Toronto and located along Southern Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment. The natural wonders in this natural oasis include limestone coasts, forests, lakes, orchids and cedar trees. Deer are incredible jumpers and runners and can go as fast as 58 kilometres /hour, so don’t expect to capture an award-winning photo. But you may see them walking at their leisure looking for food, although they are typically nocturnal and most active at night. It’s estimated their population in Ontario is approximately 400,000, so with some patience and luck you will see one grazing or bounding through the forest.
Some of the best bird watching in North America takes place in Point Pelee National Park. There are over 390 species including include the bald eagle, purple finch, hooded warbler, and the cave swallow, so you will have plenty of viewing options. In the spring and fall the migratory species move through making it the perfect time for a drive to bird haven. It’s important to keep your distance from these special creatures, stay on the designated trails, and do not disturb their habitat. It is also prohibited to feed wildlife, so save your bread for your own sandwiches. Point Pelee is the southernmost point of mainland Canada, and when along Highway 401, exit #48 at the Point Pelee sign onto Highway 77. You will then travel through Leamington, a municipality in Essex County.
Ontario has two unique species of wolves but it’s the Algonquin wolf packs that are trending in popularity. This is in large part thanks to the famous wolf howls happening on Thursdays in August at Algonquin Park (nature permitting). That’s right, should you be so inclined prepare to spend three hours once the sun goes down howling with the pack. This event happens as a group road trip along Highway 60 and you will be briefed by nature staff on this public howl before you set out. Ideally a wolf pack will respond to your howls, but don’t expect them to come out and greet you – they are very shy creatures and possibly nesting with their new cubs. Algonquin Park is one of the biggest provincial parks in Ontario and about a three and a half hour road trip from Toronto. The next potential organized event is on August 2, 2018, so you will have plenty of time to work on your wolf howl.
Looking for more adventure this fall? Check out these pumpkin-themed road trips.
© 2017 CAA South Central Ontario
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