Wapusk National Park

Wapusk National Park
Wapusk 2 1996-08-12.jpg
Cape Churchill in summertime
Map showing the location of Wapusk National Park
Map showing the location of Wapusk National Park
Location of Wapusk National Park in Canada
LocationManitoba, Canada
Nearest cityChurchill
Coordinates57°46′26″N 93°22′17″W / 57.77389°N 93.37139°W / 57.77389; -93.37139Coordinates: 57°46′26″N 93°22′17″W / 57.77389°N 93.37139°W / 57.77389; -93.37139
Area11,475 km2 (4,431 sq mi)
Established1996 (1996)
Governing bodyParks Canada
WebsiteWapusk National Park

Wapusk National Park (/wəˈpʌsk/;[1] is Canada's 37th national park, established in 1996. The name comes from the Cree word for polar bear (wâpask).[2]

Located on the shores of Hudson Bay in the Hudson Plains ecozone 45 kilometres (28 mi) south of Churchill, its accessibility is limited due to its remote location and an effort to preserve the park. The park is home to Cape Churchill, which is renowned as the best location in the world to view and photograph wild polar bears. Cape Churchill is only accessible by helicopter or Tundra Buggy.

The park was the subject of a short film in 2011's National Parks Project, directed by Hubert Davis and scored by Kathleen Edwards, Matt Mays and Sam Roberts.[3]


Wapusk derives from the Cree word for "white bear", and as the meaning indicates, the 11,475-square-kilometre (4,430 sq mi) park is a significant maternity denning area for the polar bear, Ursus maritimus.[4] It includes a large part of the Hudson Bay Lowlands, a subarctic region bordering Hudson Bay that is mostly muskeg and wet peatlands. It is one of Canada's wildest and most remote landscapes.

In winter, the polar bears of Wapusk National Park come ashore as the ice on the Hudson Bay melts, waiting on the tundra until the water freezes again. Pregnant females remain ashore, sheltered in maternity dens within the peatlands in Wapusk, giving birth over the season.[5]

Numerous birds are found in Wapusk National Park and it is a likely breeding area of the short-billed dowitcher.[6]

In 2010, biologists affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History and City College of the City University of New York published a report in Canadian Field-Naturalist offering the first documented evidence that the temperamental grizzly bears are migrating into polar bear territory. Researchers found that seven grizzlies have been spotted in Wapusk National Park south of Churchill, between 2003 and 2008.[7][8]


This national park is home to animals such as polar bears, great grey owls, timber wolves, lemmings, ivory gulls, two species of fox, peregrine falcons, snowshoe hares, moose, wolverines, Caspian terns, and a herd of 3000 Cape Churchill caribou.

In recent years, Wapusk has experienced a gradual increase in its black bear population, particularly near the Owl River, and establishing themselves in the boreal forest areas. Conversely, out on the tundra, locals and researchers are observing so-called "barren-ground" grizzly bear populations moving into the park. Possible reasons may be food competition elsewhere, habitat loss from human activity, or a changing climate, or a combination. These factors are potentially influencing the animals' expansion further north. This gives Wapusk National Park the unique distinction of having all three North American bear species in one place - polar bear, grizzly bear, and black bear - a rare scenario in modern times.[9]



See also


  1. ^ Parks Canada (2017-07-26). Parks Can Can Canada 2017. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  2. ^ "Search Results for: wâpask". Online Cree Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  3. ^ Parks Canada Agency, Government of Canada (14 September 2011). "Music and Film - Inspired by Wapusk - Wapusk National Park". pc.gc.ca. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  4. ^ Hogan, C Michael (2008-11-18). "Polar Bear: Ursus maritimus". GlobalTwitcher. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  5. ^ Parks Canada Agency, Government of Canada (2017-06-29). "About - Wapusk National Park". www.pc.gc.ca. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  6. ^ Wells, Jeffrey Vance (2007). Birder's Conservation Handbook: 100 North American Birds at Risk. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691123226. OCLC 124031808.
  7. ^ Walton, Doreen (2010-02-24). "Grizzlies encroach on polar bear territory". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  8. ^ "Grizzly Bears Move Into Polar Bear Habitat in Manitoba, Canada". Science Daily. 2010-02-23. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  9. ^ https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/65674we_found_grizzly_black_and_polar_bears_together_for_the_first_time/. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links

  • Official website
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