In general the fauna of Vancouver Island is similar to that of Canada mainland with one or two exceptions and one or two additions. Fauna refers to all animal life that is found in a particular region. With Vancouver Island having such wide varieties of ecosystems one would expect the region to support a big variety of animal life. It is easier to explore the fauna by dividing it up into four sections. On the land, in the air, in the rivers and on the coast.
On the land
There are an estimated 7000 black bears on Vancouver Island and they appear to be slightly larger and rather darker than other black bears found in other regions. Black bears are omnivores with their diet consisting mainly of vegetation with a little bit of sea food and the odd young deer.
There are between 600 and 800 cougars that live on Vancouver Island. Its favorite meat is black-tailed deer so they tend to live where the deer live. The biggest concentration is on the north eastern part of the Island in the mountainous forested regions. The Vancouver Island wolf is an endangered species and tends to stay in the north of the Island. They feed on deer and marmot, the estimated population is under 150. The Vancouver Island marmot is most probably the most endangered animal in the whole of Canada. There are only around 90 of these squirrel type creatures living in the wild mainly in the Nanaimo Lakes region and they are hunted by cougars, bears and wolves. There are 3000 Roosevelt elk that live mainly in the northern part of Vancouver Island. Grazing in large herds the Roosevelt elk has its biggest population on Vancouver Island.
In the air
There are 220 different species of birds to be found on Vancouver Island. The vast wilderness is ideal for supporting so many different species. The Northern pygmy owl is now protected as it has lost so many of its ideal habitats. Restoration of the trumpeter swan is a success story in the region. Once within 100 individuals of extinction 6,000 now reside on the Island in the winter with the majority to be seen in the Comox Valley area. Many bird spotters are attracted to the Goldstream Provincial Park to watch the bald eagles. The birds have been turning up in record numbers in December to feed off the spawning salmon.
In the rivers
The many rivers and lake make the Island a great site for fresh water fish. One of the most spectacular sites can be seen at the Stamp River Provincial Park between August and December as 40 million salmons attempt their journey back up stream to their spawning grounds.
If observing the fish isn’t entertaining enough watching bears, eagles, cougars and heron trying to catch their next meal is a sight worth seeing. The large lakes on the island are populated by magnificent sized trout, bass and many other varieties and is now an ideal destination for anglers.
In the sea
The top predator on Vancouver Island is actually in the sea. Orca the killer whale is a resident of the Island and both species, resident and transient are highly visible to those people who want to catch a glimpse particularly on the west coast. Also on the west coast is a 3000 population of sea otters. Prior to 1969 their existence on the Island was wiped out but the introduction of 89 individuals has seen the numbers swell since this time. This is just a small representation of the fauna available on the Island and goes a long way to explaining why so many people are fighting so hard to protect their natural habitats.