Animals Unique to Canada

Killer Whales

These mammals are absolutely beautiful. They are an attractive swirl of black and white and can be seen in the waters off Vancouver. There are over 600 killer whales roaming British Columbia' s rugged coastline. Killer whales make up some of the most complex communities we have seen in mammals. They always travel in groups ranging in size. These are called pods, clans and communities. Remarkably, a killer whale will spend its whole life travelling with its mother and kin. Eventually, this group will increase in size and complexity. Over its lifetime, the group will never separate and a female will always act as the leader of the group. Not only do killer whales have a complex social structure, they also possess a complex language structure. Killer whales communicate vocally using different dialects. The dialect used depends on the group to which the whale belongs. Northern resident whales are found in Vancouver Island and up to Alaska, and Southern residents dwell in the south part of Vancouver Island to Puget Sound. There is much that is done to protect our black and white friends. There is a whale sanctuary in an area called Robson Bight in British Columbia. Here, whales can breed in peace, as no boats are allowed in the area. There is, however, an observation area. Whale watching at Robson Bight is a very popular activity with students.

Black and Rare White Bears

Along the rugged coast of British Columbia also lives a healthy population of black bears. There are between 120,000 and 160,000 black bears in the province. The bears are predominantly vegetarian. Their diet consists of roots, berries, nuts, fish, insects and sometimes other animals. An amazing fact about some black bears is that they can produce beautiful bears that are white in color! They do this with remarkable frequency. The population of bears lives together in the forests of British Columbia. These forests contain many streams that are plentiful in salmon, which is a main food source for the bears. The Canadian Government realizes the uniqueness of these special black and white bears. As a result, they have taken steps to protect them. For example, there is a law that prevents people from hunting the bears. In addition to this law, the environments of these bears also need to be protected. Bears that live close to residential areas are attracted to garbage and sometimes venture out to areas where garbage is available. Once the bears find a good eating spot, it is almost impossible to remove them. They keep returning to the spot, and this poses a risk both to the people who live in the community and to the bear itself. To avoid this situation, the communities have implemented sealed garbage bins that are 'Bear-Proof' . This means that it is close to impossible for a bear to open the bins, thus they get frustrated and do not return to the area.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese can be seen and heard in many areas of British Columbia. They usually stay into November and December before flying south for the winter in search of warmer climates. Canada Geese pride themselves on their good looks. Averaging approximately 8 to 10 pounds in weight, they have prominent white patches on their cheeks and rumps and have glossy black heads, tails, necks and feet. Their life span is quite long, ranging from 20 to 30 years. While Canada Geese tend to have babies at the early age of 3, females are known to reproduce up to the age of 20! Canada Geese have very strong family relations. In fact, both parents tend to their young for nearly a year. Families remain close until the time comes to return to the breeding areas. It is only at this time that the geese must go their separate ways. Because Canada Geese are a national symbol, it is illegal to harm them in any way. This policy has actually resulted in an overpopulation of the birds. For example, in Vancouver, British Columbia, it is not uncommon to see a family of Canada Geese walking around on six-lane highways!

Teresa Lacuna