In June, Ottawa cyclist Kerry Surman was in for an unpleasant wildlife encounter when she cut off a Canada Goose while biking along her usual route. The goose attacked Surman, landing her in the hospital for five days with a concussion and a fractured cheekbone.
It’s not surprising that the attack came as a shock to Surman—although geese and ducks can become aggressive, the incident was unusual. (Lucky, since the country’s Canada Goose population is estimated to be around 2.7 million.) And though you might not be on the lookout for fowl every time you step outdoors, Canada is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including major predators like the ones below.
Grizzly bears may be the only animals that are more mythologized than sharks for attacks in the wild. In reality though, they rarely attack. In all of North America, there were only 63 deaths from bear attacks between 1900 and 2009, according to a University of Calgary study.
That doesn’t mean they’re not to be feared. Adult males can weigh up to nearly 800 lbs, be nearly 10 feet tall when standing on their hind legs, and run up to 55 km/hour. There are an estimated 2500 grizzlies located throughout the Rockies, British Columbia, and the Arctic. Bottom line? The only thing more terrifying than the grizzly bear is the “grolar”—a newly discovered hybrid between a grizzly and a polar bear.
Everyone knows that the honey badger don’t care. But have you heard about his cousin, the wolverine? If you have, you know that no mention of the solitary creature can be made without a reference to the X-Men character, and wolverines possesses strength of superhero proportions. Capable of killing prey much larger than itself, a wolverine can rip apart solid logs and crush bones that a grizzly couldn’t. There’s even been a recorded instance of a wolverine taking down a full-grown moose.
A wolverine’s thick fur is resistant to frost, which makes them ideal habitants of arctic and alpine regions of Northern Canada. But like their superhero counterpart, you’re unlikely to encounter one—they’re considered one of Canada’s most elusive animals.
Rattlesnakes are the only reptiles in Canada with a venomous bite. As their name would imply, they’re also the only snakes that have rattlers—but they’re not the only snakes capable of making rattling noises.
Rattlers are easy to avoid though, and not just because of their distinctive warning sound. Only three species are found in Canada; the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake lives in areas around Georgian Bay and the Bruce Peninsula, while the Prairie Rattlesnake remains confined to southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan. Meanwhile, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake, which can measure more than 1.6 metres in length, is only found in British Columbia’s interior.
Capable of killing prey up to six times their weight, mountain lions live mainly in British Columbia near riverbanks and wooded areas. However, they’ve been spotted throughout southern Canada and their numbers are on the rise, spreading toward more populated areas. Since 1890, there have only been 110 documented attacks against humans in North America—but half of those occurred after 1990.
Strangely considered to be one the “small cats,” cougars are about the same size as an adult human and weigh more than 200 lbs. We would take quiet comfort in their inability to roar, if it wasn’t for their ability to stealthily stalk their prey.