Wabakimi at a glance
Originally established in 1983, Wabakimi was expanded almost six fold in 1979, bringing the park to it’s current size of 892,061 hectares (8,920 square kilometers, 3,444 square miles, or almost 2.3 million acres). It is now the second largest park in the Ontario Parks system (the largest is Polar Bear Provincial Park, near Hudson Bay).
The park lies within the Superior Structural Province of the Precambrian Shield, an extensive rock type that underlies half of Canada and is comprised of some of the oldest rocks on earth. A wide range of intrusive and metamorphic rocks form a gently rolling terrain of rock ridges and shallow lake basins. Granite bedrock is pervasive throughout the Wabakimi area.
Wabakimi Provincial Park is situated entirely within the Boreal Forest, a broad belt of coniferous forest that stretches between the mostly treeless arctic/sub arctic region to the north, and the mixed hardwood-coniferous transition of the Great Lakes-St.Lawrence Forest Region to the south. The waters of extinct glacial Lake Agassiz denuded many upland areas, producing expanses of dry lichen rockscapes which support valuable caribou habitat. Typical boreal tree species such as black spruce and jack pine, with the occasional trembling aspen and white birch, dominate upland areas, while black spruce and larch vegetate the wet, organic deposits commonly found in bedrock depressions.
The wildlife species of the park are typical of the Boreal Forest region. These species include large game animals such as moose, woodland caribou, and bear, as well as smaller mammals such as snowshoe hare, least chipmunk, red squirrel, lynx, fox, martin, weasel, timber wolf, beaver, muskrat, otter, and mink. Typical bird species include raven, grey jay, osprey, bald eagle, boreal owl, spruce grouse, common loon, black duck, common golden eye, hooded merganser, herring gull, ovenbird and thrushes.
The Woodland Caribou of Wabakimi Provincial Park
At one time, woodland caribou enjoyed a broad geographic distribution throughout Northwestern Ontario and the northern United States. Throughout most of the 20th century, caribou populations declined or were eliminated in the southern portions of their historic range in Ontario. Today they are found only in scattered herds throughout the Boreal forest and are considered a vulnerable species. An estimated 300 woodland caribou trek the lichen-rich, granite hills of Wabakimi Provincial Park. Unlike their social, northern cousins, the barren ground caribou, these elusive woodland species seldom form large groups or herds. Their survival strategy seems to be based on a pattern of dispersion, with individuals living and traveling alone or in small groups. Scattered about the hinterlands in such few numbers, may give each individual caribou a better chance of eluding predators, especially timber wolves, or possibly lynx and black bear.
Caribou are most often observed along lake or river shorelines or when swimming across a lake. Caribou droppings are black, irregular in shape and about as wide and long as your thumb nail. Moose droppings are brown, generally spherical in shape and about the size of your thumb. Caribou calve in the spring and early summer on islands and points on lakes, in order to avoid predators. Avoid camping on small to medium sized islands
(less than about 1 square km) to prevent caribou cows and calves from being frightened onto the mainland. Elusive and seldom seen, these animals and their habitat are worthy of the highest respect.
The Future of Wabakimi
In 2000 Wabakimi Park began development of it’s first
Management Plan. The Management Plan will provide direction for the protection,
planning, development and management of the resources and attributes of the
park. Public consultation is an important part of this process. Please contact
the Park Superintendent to have your name added to the project mailing list.
Additional information on this project will also be available on the Internet.
The staff of Wabakimi Provincial Park are interested in receiving information on birds or mammals observed in the park. In particular, we would appreciate hearing about observations of woodland caribou and bird nesting sites (especially the nest site of birds of prey) as well as comments on any interesting life forms that you may chance upon and identify. The park’s natural attributes and diversity are far to numerous to be documented by park staff only. We appreciate your help. Please send a copy of your field notes to:
Wabakimi Provincial Park