JASPER, Alberta – If you’re coming to Jasper National Park to see the rich and varied wildlife, try Mt. Robson Provincial Park.
From large mammals to exotic birds, and everything in between, Mt. Robson has it.
Moose, grizzly bears, black bears and goats are among the animals commonly seen in the area. The large herbivores reside year-round in the park, though where you’ll find them depends on what time of year you visit. In the summer, they head for the high ground and disperse; in winter, they get as low as they can and concentrate.
The goats actually remain near their range, but the moose and caribou tend to move greater distances. The moose like to congregate in willow jungles at lower elevations in the winter. The Moose Lake marsh area and the deciduous forests near the Fraser River by Robson Meadows.
Small mammals are common in the park, too. Weasels, mink, marten and otters all call the park home, but they tend to be reclusive. You have a better chance ot seeing the red foxes, coyotes and wolves who sometimes come down to trails and the highway, though many of these sightings are fleeting at night.
Much easier to find are muskrats, whose houses are a regular festure of Moose Lake Marsh, and beavers, signs of whom can be found along the Fraser River Nature Trail and at Lucerne on the Labrador Tea Trail. The beavers, in particular, are popular with guides and tourists alike.
Spend any time at all in Mt. Robson Provincial Park, and you’re almost certain to come across ground squirrels and hoary marmots. They’re pretty evenly distributed around the park and generally sedentary in habit, so they make excellent subjects for photographs.
Other commonly seen mammals include many kinds of hares, whose numbers peak at different times of the year; and porcupines, who stay on the ground during the summer to feed on herbaceous plants but take to the trees in winter. Mice, voles, and shrews also make the park their home.
Don’t forget the birds. More than 180 species have been recorded in the park or its vicinity. It must be said that the great majority of them are summer residents or transients; about 25 are full-time residents. Residents include several species of owls, along with goshawks, grouse, and ravens.
Come during the summer, though, and you’ll be treated to a bird wonderland.