Small herd of caribou running.
What to do Here
Discovery Coast Circle Tour
Visit the West Chilcotin logo

Facebook button
Wildlife

"The wolf howled his mourning from down in the meadow all night long.

From California Big Horn Sheep around Sheep Creek and Farwell Canyon, to the rarely seen cream or white Kermode or 'Spirit Bear' found only on a few islands and in the deep undergrowth of the coastal rainforest, the Chilcotin has a large array of big game animals.

In the early part of the last century around 1914, moose began to move into the Chilcotin. Prior to that, the Native Aboriginals didn't even have a name for the animal and in fact, called it Mowich, the same as what they called a deer. The first white man to identify the animal was a storekeeper that had moved from Northern BC where he had worked as a trader for the Hudson Bay Company. Fred Becher had set up a trading post at Riske Creek and he recognized the mysterious animal as a moose when hide and horns were brought to him at the trading post.

By the 1930's, it's said that moose had overrun the country but that many died off during a harsh winter in the 1950's. There are still quite a few around though, and you'll often see them along the treeline or in meadows along Highway 20 if you keep a sharp eye out.

The Itcha Illgatchuz mountain ranges support the largest and healthiest herd of Woodland Caribou in British Columbia. In fact, other regions of the Province periodically transplant cows from here to areas where predators have set back the herd numbers. It's not uncommon to see small caribou herds down on Charlotte and Nimpo Lakes in the winter and if you fly during that season, you'll see their tracks everywhere. In summer, they return to their range in the mountains where trail riders often see them from horseback.

The West Chilcotin supports large numbers of Black Bears and Grizzly Bears and they're often seen along the rivers fishing. If you would like to see a bear, Highway 20 West from Anahim Lake to the Fisheries Pond in Tweedsmuir Park at the foot of the Bella Coola Hill is a good place to start. You will often see Black and Brown Bears feeding along the highway and many bears start moving out of the high country down to the Atnarko and Bella Coola River during the salmon runs. You may see grizzlies fishing in one of the rivers, or patrolling the shoreline for salmon carcasses. Tsylos Provincial Park also reports a large number of bears in the area, probably because of the plentiful fish in the nearby Chilko River.

Some of the Member operators listed on this website offer wildlife tours and bear watching, including looking for the white Spirit Bear. Many can take you into more remote areas where the likelihood of seeing wild animals is much higher, and the photographic opportunities much better.

Most of the Chilcotin supports huge deer populations with Mule deer more likely to be found throughout, while Whitetail populations can be found mostly around the Tatlayoko Valley area. There too you will find their main predator, the cougar.

Since the West Chilcotin has a large number of mountain ranges, it also supports Mountain Goats. For an animal that is nearly pure white and of some size, you would think it would be easy to spot them standing on the side of a cliff or peak, but they're actually well camouflaged in their terrain. However, keep an eye out because just about anywhere there's a peak or rocky cliff, there's potential for seeing a Mountain Goat.

The Chilcotin is wild country with very little encroachment from outside and as a result, is still home to large wolf populations. In addition, the wolverine, which is rarely seen in North America, is not uncommon in this area, although it's more easily spotted in winter than in summer. We also have a very large population of the shy Lynx.

Smaller fur bearing animals include Coyote, Marten, Fox, Mink, Marmot and squirrels.

The high altitude plateau that makes up much of the West Chilcotin does not support exotic song birds, but the birds it does have are magnificent. Predator birds include hawks, owls, Osprey, and the Bald Eagle. Our area is also home to the Trumpeter Swan which was brought back from the brink of extinction by Ralph Edwards of Lonesome Lake who homesteaded in a long valley now within Tweedsmuir Park.

The Chilcotin also supports a nesting colony of the American White Pelican at Stum Lake and Anahim Lake is a major feeding waterway for them. There are Blue Herons, grebes, terns, geese, ducks, teal, the unusual Barrow's Goldeneye, merganser, gulls, sandhill cranes, and numerous other species of waterfowl.

A true barometer of the good health of a lake is the loon and it's a favorite of most visitors. Best known for it's maniacal laugh the bird populates many of the lakes in the Chilcotin and provides hours of evening enjoyment for those sitting around a campfire, listening to the breeding pairs calling out to one another.

Woodland birds include at least three species of woodpecker, including the huge and rare Pileated Woodpecker, grouse, ptarmigan, Cedar Waxwing, chickadees, Whiskey Jacks, Nutcracker, red winged blackbirds, mountain blue bird, tree, cliff, and barn swallows, flickers, and Rufous hummingbirds. Some small songbirds migrate through on their way north or to the the Coast. Those can include Grosbeaks, redpolls, purple finch, goldfinch, Pine Siskin and dark eyed Junco to name a few that pass through. And of course, you can't forget the ever present and wily Raven.

Two woodland caribou running.
 
An Osprey carries his just caught fish through the sky.
 
A white Mountain Goat against rocks. B and A Miller.
 
Buck mule deer stands against the snow.
 
A grizzly bear cruises river for salmon.
 
A pair of moose feed on grass near a pool.
 
This web site designed by Vector North Web Design - West Chilcotin Tourism Association - All Rights Reserved -