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In honour of National Wildlife Week (April 5-11, 2015), we take a closer look at eight species you may encounter in the Canadian wild - or your own backyard!

8 Canadian wildlife species you should know

Lori Knowles

Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 5:33 PM - In honour of National Wildlife Week, we take a closer look at eight species you may encounter in the Canadian wild - or your own backyard!

National Wildlife Week is a program of the Canadian Wildlife Federation celebrating Canada's biodiversity and highlighting the important work of conservation. Proclaimed by Parliament in 1947, it falls every year during the week of April 10th in recognition of the birth date of Jack Miner, a Canadian conservationist credited with saving the Canada goose from extinction. 

In honour of National Wildlife Week 2015, we dug through our vast library of photo submissions from viewers to highlight eight amazing wildlife species found in different parts of Canada.

1. Red fox (Photo by Mike Peddie, Parry Sound, ON)

Red foxes are one of Canada's most common and widespread mammals, found in every province and territory. They are known for their dog-like appearance, lustrous red fur and bushy tails. They mainly eat other small mammals such as mice, squirrels and hares, but occasionally mix it up with plants. Contrary to popular belief, we know exactly what the fox says, and it is not pretty.

2. Ruby-throated hummingbird (Photo by Brian Morin, Limoges, ON)

We love this photo by Brian Morin because it freezes the motion that is otherwise so hard to see. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are found from Alberta to Nova Scotia. Although their population is considered stable, gardeners are encouraged to build structures and plant flowers to attract hummingbirds, as they are pollinators.

3. Snowshoe hare (Photo by Colleen George, Centreville, NS)

The snowshoe hare is Canada's very own chameleon. Although it is one of our most common forest mammals, it is found only in North America. The snowshoe hare is named for its large, furry feet, which help it to move easily over the snow. Its comparatively small ears are lined with veins, which help regulate the hare's body temperature. But its most remarkable adaptation is its ability to completely change its fur colour: from grey-brown in summer, it turns completely white in winter to camouflage against the snow.

4. Moose (Photo by Brian Skakun, Prince George, BC)

The majestic moose is found all across Canada, from the Alaska border to the eastern tip of Newfoundland. Depending on the season, an adult moose chows down on anywhere from 15 to 30 kg of plant forage per day. In late summer and autumn, a mature bull carries a rack of antlers that may span up to 180 cm. (Source)

5. Goldenrod spider (Photo by John McTavish, Orillia, ON)

Some spiders give the species a bad rap, but if you spot this little guy in your garden, don't freak out. Common in southern parts of Canada, goldenrod spiders wait in the petals of yellow and white flowers such as goldenrod, daisies, and trilliums to trap their insect prey. Because they feed on invertebrates, spiders like the goldenrod are a form of natural pest control and are a sign of a healthy environment. Even if one was to bite you (which has only rarely been known to happen when the spider is physically harmed), its venom is not strong enough to do you any real harm. (Source)

6. Canada lynx (Photo by Travis Reid, Grand Forks, BC)

These big, beautiful cats are found in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and the Northwest and Yukon Territories. Although generally secretive and hard to spot, they are remarkably tolerant of human settlement if left undisturbed. They resemble large domestic cats, but we don't suggest treating them like one.

7. Snowy owl (Photo by Kim Dunphy, St. John's, NL)

With its bright white plumage, the male snowy owl is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable and beloved owl species in Canada. Snowy owls have been getting a lot of attention recently thanks to back-to-back "irruptions" (unusual migrations) that have seen them wintering as far south as Windsor, Ontario. It's not yet known what's driving these elusive creatures further south, but theories range from climate change to a decline in the population of the owl's favourite food, lemmings.

8. Polar bear (Photo by Heidi den Haan, Churchill, MB)

Polar bears are Canada's largest land carnivore, with adult males capable of weighing up to a staggering 1,700 pounds. They are found throughout the Territories and northern parts of Ontario and Manitoba, hugging the coastlines of Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean. In recent years, polar bears have become a symbol of the devastating effects of climate change, as shrinking sea ice makes it difficult for them to hunt, threatening their long-term survival. Initiatives like National Wildlife Week help to raise awareness of the importance of habitat preservation and fund valuable research into bear population trends.

Have you captured an amazing wildlife photo? We'd love to see it! Upload your photos to our gallery.

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