Due to its isolation from the North American mainland, the island of Newfoundland is home to only fourteen native mammals, no native amphibians or reptiles and many rare plants. Newfoundland populations of many of these represent endemic Newfoundland subspecies, which have diverged from their mainland cousins over thousands of years. However many non-native species have also been introduced to Newfoundland and may be affecting the island’s native species. The National Park provided a protected places for these species, and is one of the best places in Canada to see species such as caribou and ptarmigan. Some of our iconic species include:
Moose – Moose were introduced to Newfoundland over a century ago, and with no predators their numbers grew rapidly in the park to a peak of 7800 in 1995. Excessive moose munching was keeping forests from re-growing, as a moose can eat 18 kg of trees and shrubs per day! Today the park manages moose at a sustainable level and forests are starting to recover, with benefits to many other species. Visit a ‘moose exclosure’ on the Bakers Brook Trail, a fenced area that shows the impacts of moose on forests by preventing them from eating the vegetation inside.
Woodland Caribou – Uniquely, both male and female caribou grow antlers. Caribou range across lowland bogs and forests to highland barrens seeking food, mates, and a safe place to give birth. In winter, they paw through half a metre of snow to reach lichens that they can smell underneath! Gros Morne Mountain is closed from May to the last Friday in June to protect newborn caribou and ptarmigan. Where to see: Caribou are often seen on large coastal bogs North of Rocky Harbour.