Voyageurs National Park Animals

Voyageurs is home to a diverse assemblage of wildlife, including over 240 species of birds, 10 species of reptiles and amphibians, 53 species of fish, 42 species of mammals, and countless invertebrates.

The park has two distinct but overlapping habitat types--the terrestrial, upland ecosystem and the aquatic ecosystem. Each has its own set of herbivores, insectivores, omnivores and carnivores, although some species cross the boundary to inhabit or get food from both.

The animals you might see on a visit to the park vary considerably with the seasons. During the warm months of summer the park is alive with the hustle and bustle of thousands of migratory birds, ranging from common loons, great blue herons and white pelicans to tiny neotropical warblers. Other park inhabitants, like the bear, white-tailed deer, red squirrel and other forest dwellers are also on the move. They are seeking food to regain strength after the harsh northcountry winter, enjoying the brief warmth and abundance of summer, and building up fat or food reserves to prepare for the next season of cold.

Winter is a time of ice and snow at Voyageurs, when the surface of even the largest lakes in the park freezes and the park's wildlife are challenged by long periods of extreme cold. Many animals migrate or enter a state of dormancy to escape the elements. Others remain active, leaving tracks in the snow that allow park visitors to discover the comings and goings of Voyageurs' wildlife during the short days and long nights of winter.

During this cold season, wolves move in daylight over the frozen expanses of lake in search of their next meal. Snowshoe hares trade their grayish-brown summer color for a coat of white fur to blend in with their snowy surroundings. Black bears retreat to their dens, where expectant mothers will give birth to tiny cubs in the darkness of winter. Turtles burrow down in the mud to wait out the winter, emerging when longer days bring light and warmth back to the lands and waters of Voyageurs National Park.

Beneath the surface of the park's many lakes, fish and aquatic invertebrates inhabit their watery world through the warm months of summer and the cold of winter when the surface of the larger lakes may freeze to depths of over two feet.

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