• Patrice Gagnon

Wild Animals in Quebec and Where to Photograph Them

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

The province of Quebec is a place rich in fauna. It is best known for Quebec City and Montreal but if you decide to explore more of its regions, you’ll find many places worth discovering far away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist areas.


One of the best experiences you can have in Quebec is discovering the many wild animals that roam the deep forests. In Quebec, there are many wild animals, but there are some that are much harder and more dangerous to find. In this guide, I have highlighted some of the most popular and photogenic animals you can find in this beautiful province and exactly when and where you can find them.


There are 11 unique animals that you can find and photograph in Quebec:


1. Beaver

2. Black Bear

3. Caribou

4. Moose

5. Whale

6. White-Tailed Deer

7. Northern Gannet

8. Puffin

9. Wolf

10. Seal

11. Bald Eagle



Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

Beaver


Beavers are generally found in forest environments rich in wood. That is why Quebec forests are a good place to see beavers in their natural environments. Beavers can be found near their huts or their dams which are easily identified. Beaver dams are built on water and therefore beavers can most be observed on lakes or near rivers.


Beavers are quite an elusive animal to see, they are small, and they like to hide. Keep your eyes peeled and be patient because when you do find one it is quite a sight to behold.

If you do see a beaver in Quebec watch out for it hitting the water with its tail, it means that it has spotted you and it is warning other beavers of your presence. It is quite interesting to see.


Where to Find Beavers in Quebec


Beavers can be found in many of the national parks. However, the most popular places you can find beavers are:


Jacques Cartier National Park:


This park is located near Quebec City. Hike the trail called Le Scotora. It is a beautiful trail with an amazing view at the end. However, during the trail you will also walk through beaver dams. If you stick around the dams long enough, you might be lucky and spot a beaver.


Aiguebelle National Park:


Located in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, the national park is also home to many beavers. The park’s national emblem is the beaver and it has one of the highest densities of beaver per km2 in Quebec. The best place in the park to see beavers would be a hike in La Castorière which is a 1km loop trail around the most populated beaver lake in the park.


Pointe-Taillon National Park:


This park is located near the Saguenay region of Quebec. This park is a wetland and has many ponds across the park’s hikes and bicycle trails. There are many observable beaver colonies in the park. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a beaver here.


Oka National Park:


Located near Montreal, this is also a park quite frequented by beavers. You can find them near Lac la Sauvagine or near the Rivière aux Serpents. Both these locations have trails that you can use to get there and observe the animals.


Plaisance National Park:


This park is located near Gatineau. Although it is a small park it is teeming with life. To find beavers here, you should walk near the marshes at dusk where many beavers will come out of hiding.


Domaine le Pic Bois Inc:


This is not a national park but an outfitter. However, the place offers private two hour guided tours at dusk to discover the beaver in its natural habitat. It is $28 per adult and you are sure to see many beavers here. It is located in the Charlevoix region.


Pourvoirie du Lac Moreau:


Located in the Charlevoix region as well, this is another outfitter that is much deeper in the forest. It offers guided tours to see its fauna. There are no specific tours here to see the beaver, but it is part of the agenda and you will get to see many more animals during your journey.


Hotel Sacacomie:


This is a hotel near Trois-Rivieres that offers exceptional amenities and activities in nature. Here you will find a guided tour that will take you around in a vehicle three hours before sunset to find beavers in the forest. You should have many great opportunities to photograph beavers here.


Best Time to See Beavers


The best time to see beavers in Quebec would usually be in the early morning or at dusk. That is the time in which they are in the most active both during the summer and winter. During the day beavers will usually stay in their huts. You can find beavers all year round.



Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

Black Bear


The black bear is one of Quebec's most popular and most feared animals. It loves dense forests which are often inaccessible to man.


Unless you actively look for a bear you usually would not come face-to-face with one as it tends to avoid confrontation with men. And if you are to come face-to-face with a black bear remember that they are more scared of you than you are of them.


The black bear is the only bear other than the polar bear that can be seen in Quebec.


Where to Find Black Bears in Quebec


To observe the black bear, you will need to be accompanied by a guide who will take you deep into the forest. Fortunately, there are many places in Quebec where this service is offered:


Domaine de l’Ours Noir Baie-Comeau:


This is the best place in Quebec to observe the black bear. It is located in the Lower North Shore about 8 hours driving distance from Montreal which makes it quite far. However, visiting this place is surely a bucket list item. Here you can sleep among the bears in cabins created for observation. You will also be able to travel the forest alongside a guide who is an expert in the black bear. The success rate for bear observation is 96% which means that you are almost certain to get great pictures of bears here.


Reserve Faunique des Laurentides:


This place is very close to Montreal which makes it a great place to see wild bears. You must make a reservation here as you will be with a guide at dusk who will accompany you into black bear observation territories. The observation tours run from July 4th to September 1st and bear observation here is guaranteed.


Station Touristique Duchesnay:


This area is located near Quebec City which also makes it a great place to go if you are in the area. This place offers two types of observations, one in a tower where you will be able to spot black bears from a safe distance, or with a quad which means that you will get very close to black bears and other animals. You will always be accompanied by an expert guide during your tour.


Best Time to See Black Bears


The black bear goes into hibernation from October to April which means it is virtually impossible to see a black bear during those periods.


The best time to see black bears would be during the summer which is the season in which they are catching up on their weight loss during the winter and preparing for their hibernation in the following winter.


The best time of day to see the black bear will vary from one place to another depending on human activity. In areas that are very far from humans you will be able to see black bears during the early morning and at dawn. In areas that are very populated you will only be able to see black bears at night as they tend to avoid contact with humans.



Photo by Christal Yuen on Unsplash

Caribou


The Caribou is probably the hardest animal to find in Quebec. They are usually found north of the Quebec border next to Labrador. Caribou are nomadic creatures that travel over 6,000 km of the tundra over their life. If you are lucky enough to travel to the Bay James or to Nunavik you will be able to see over a million caribous grouped together into some very amazing and impressive troops.


However, there are still some places where you can find the Caribou in more accessible places in Quebec although it won't be in vast numbers there are still some chances that you can spot a few dozen caribous.


Where to Find Caribous in Quebec


Mirage Outfitter:


This place is located in the Baie-James. It is extremely far from Montreal, located about 23 hours of driving away. However, if you do decide to make the journey here, you will find a great place for caribou observation. The Mirage Outfitter offers a unique concept of snowmobile safaris. This is a fun activity which will have your heart racing coupled with some amazing vistas and beautiful wildlife. This would be a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. The mirage outfitter offers food, shelter, and amenities for a comfortable experience in nature.


Radisson:


Located in the region of Eeyou Istchee. Radisson is a small town surrounded by nature. If you want to observe the caribou here, Animal Paquin offers a tour to see the Caribou. The tour is called “La Plus Grande Migration au Monde” which means the biggest migration in the world. The tour is offered from the end of November to early April. If you do go there to observe the caribou, make sure to keep your eyes open for the northern lights at night.


Parc National de la Gaspésie:


This is a national park in the heart of the Gaspésie region. It has many mountains and is popular among hikers as it has many summits you can hike to. This is one of the rare places in Quebec that still has caribou although the population is protected and endangered. If you go to this park for caribou, I recommend hiking the Mont Jacques-Cartier trail. It is the best trail for caribou observation and is only open from June 24 to September 30. If you do go, try to visit in September when the caribou are gathered with their young in preparation for rutting season. It is quite a sight to behold.


Grands-Jardins National Park:


This is another national park in the Charlevoix region that is host to the biggest Caribou population in southern Quebec. Seeing caribou here is very hard but possible. I recommend the Randonnée Taiga: A Secret Trail tour. This is a hike that is only allowed with a park warden as a guide. It is a trail that is usually frequented by caribou as one of their main food sources are located all along the trail. The tour can be taken from June 21st to October 13th.


Best Time to See Caribous:


The best time to see Caribou would be in September during the rutting season as they more frequently visit trails for fast travel. I would recommend visiting the trails in the early morning if possible or at dusk as the Caribou will feel more comfortable coming out at those times.

If you plan on seeing the Caribou in the great north such as the Bay James, the best season would be the migratory period during the winter.



Photo by Ivars Krutainis on Unsplash

Moose


A moose will need at least 25 to 30 kg of plant-based food every day and will usually drink from stagnant water rich in minerals. Therefore, moose will usually be found in valleys abundant in vegetation where they can feed close to the forest.


Moose is an animal that supports the cold very well but cannot support intense heat. Therefore, moose will often be seen hiding in cold water to escape the high heat as well as the mosquitoes.


A good way to see moose is by going out on a canoe and paddling near the side of the water observing the forest.


If you are looking for moose in Quebec, you will find that it is a good place to go as moose are a relatively common site.


Where to Find Moose in Quebec:


Parc National de la Jacques Cartier:


The Jacques Cartier park is near Quebec City. The park emblem is the moose and is probably the best place in Quebec to spot one. They are regularly seen in the park’s river grazing water plants and escaping the mosquitoes. Your best bet would be to use Le Draveur Nord trail which is an 8.5-hour trail that gives many viewpoints of the river.


Matane Wildlife Reserve:


The Matane wildlife reserve is located in the Gaspésie region of Quebec. Here you can take a Moose Safari operated by the SEPAQ. You will be accompanied by a guide before sunset that will take you to the best place to observe moose. The safari is offered from late June to late September.


Best Time to See Moose:


The best time to see moose Would be from June to early October during their intense feeding periods. To maximize your chances of seeing a moose it is recommended to go in September during the rutting season when moose male and female expose themselves more frequently.



Photo by Iswanto Arif on Unsplash

Whale


Quebec is one of the best places in the world to observe whales. There is a total of 13 species in Quebec including the largest whale in the world known as the blue whale, the fin whale, the humpback whale, and the white belugas.


The reason there are so many whales in Quebec are because of the huge reserves of food available as well as the deepness of the water. There are many plankton and krill in Quebec’s waters. You can sometimes even spot whales by standing near the shore.


Your best bet for whale photography would be aboard a zodiac which is a boat made for observation. I was worried about my camera aboard a zodiac, but it was super safe, and I was happy I brought it. If you want to get even closer, you may try a using a kayak.


There are many places in Quebec where you can go for whale observation but some of them are much better than others. As for companies there are many companies offering zodiac tours to see whales.


Where to Find Whales in Quebec:


Tadoussac:


This is a beautiful little village by the water on the north shore. It is fairly close to Quebec City and a great place to visit on a Quebec tour. It is by far the best place in all of Quebec to see whales. I have personally been on a tour in Tadoussac aboard a zodiac and we saw at least 30-40 fin whales, as well as a blue whale and a beluga. You can book a tour with a number of different companies that range from 2-4 hours long.


Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Center:


This is another great spot for whale observation. It is a better spot for observing whales from the shores than Tadoussac and it also offers many whale observation tours aboard a zodiac.


Forillon National Park:


This is another great place to observe whales in the Gaspésie region. There are many companies offering whale watching tours aboard a zodiac here as well.


Pointe-des-Monts:


Located near Baie-Trinité in the Duplessis region, this is a great place for whale observation. There are many sightings of whales from the shore, but what makes this place really special is being able to sleep on the shores at night and experiencing the sound of whales while you watch the northern lights explode the skies with raw beauty. This is a place with so many photography opportunities.


Best Time to See Whales:


The best times to go to Quebec for whale observation would be from May to October during the warmer periods because unlike the Beluga all the other whales migrate towards warmer regions during the winter months which means you will not be able to see many whales.


It should be noted that if you come to Quebec to see the Beluga it might be very hard because it is an endangered species and tour operators must obey a new law that indicates that they should move away when you spot a Beluga in the water which is what happened during our Tadoussac tour.


I would try to book the earliest tours in the morning as this is when less people have been out to see the whales which means that they might be easier to spot as they haven't moved further away due to human activity.



I took this deer picture in Jacques-Cartier National Park

White-Tailed Deer


The white-tailed deer can be found all over Southern Quebec. It is a very common animal and can be found in almost every Park.


Where to Find White-Tailed Deer in Quebec:


Anticosti Island:


This is a large island that can be reached by plane or by boat. It is a national park as well as an outfitter. It is a hunter’s paradise as there are over 160,000 deer that inhabit the island. It is the best place in the world to spot deer if you can make it there.


Îles-de-Boucherville National Park:


There are over 120 deer in this magnificent national park. It is a great place near Montreal for deer observation. The park is actually struggling with its excessively large deer population per square km as the deer are eating faster than the ecosystem can restore itself. If you go to this park, take the Grand-Duc trail which will have you walking through the deer’s ecosystem.


Parc Michel-Chartrand:


This is an underrated little public park in Longueuil near Montreal. You can even get here using public transportation. The park has a few small walking trails as well as a nice bicycle trail. What makes the park special however is the large concentration of deer inside the park. I have been a few times and have always managed to get very close to a few deer.


Best Times to See White-Tailed Deer:


Deer will be present all year long in their ecosystems. The best time to see them however would be in the early morning or at dusk when human activity is at a minimum and deer feel more comfortable out in the open.



Photo by Benoit Gauzere on Unsplash

Northern Gannet


The northern gannet is a very impressive bird that can be found in Northeastern Quebec. They can be observed in Havre Saint-Pierre, Sept-Iles, and many other places. But there is only one place that is worth going to if you want to see the Northern Gannet.


Where to Find the Northern Gannet in Quebec:


The northern gannet can be found in Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park. This is where you will see the largest concentration of northern gannet in North America. There are over 116,000 of them on this small island. I went there in 2019 and it was truly an amazing experience. You are up close and personal with the colony that is concentrated on the north side of the island. You can observe them in their mating rituals, tending to their young, and fighting with one another. It is like being in a David Attenborough documentary, simply remarkable. You will be able to walk several kilometers along the colony as they chant, sing, and fly above you. The colony is located next to a steep cliff which makes it a beautiful place to look at as well.


Best Times to See Northern Gannets:


The northern gannet is a migratory bird which means it is only in Quebec during a specific period of the year. The Bonaventure island is open to Northern Gannet observation from May 20 to October 14.



Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Puffin


Not many people are aware that you can find puffins in Quebec. It is known as the clown bird due to irregular appearance. Puffins have a very large Colony on the lower North Shore and can be observed both from a boat and an island that they frequent. It is truly a beautiful animal and it is worth a visit if you plan on going anywhere near the lower north shore.


Where to Find Puffins in Quebec:


The puffins are found exclusively in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. It is a unique and beautiful park known for its irregular rock formations. If you do go there for puffins, you can observe them by booking a zodiac tour that will take you into the heart of the colony. If you want to see them from the land, I would recommend visiting Île aux Perroquets. The island has an active puffin colony that lives there, and it is the best place in the park to take some great pictures of the birds at your own pace. To see the puffins, you will need to book a boat tour or a taxi boat. This can be done from either the town of Havre Saint-Pierre or Mingan who both have Canada Parks interpretation centers.


Best Time to See Puffins:


The best time to see the puffins in the park are from mid-June to late September when the park is open to guests.



Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash

Wolf


The wolf is a very hard creature to see in Quebec as it strays far away from places with high human activity. However, you will find a few places that offer close contact with wolves in Quebec.


Where to Find Wolves in Quebec:


Parc Mahikan:


This is a wolf park in Quebec that provides safe observation points for three different species of wolf. You will be able to observe the wolf in its natural environment. You can even sleep here amongst the wolves to truly have an immersive experience. The park is located close to Saguenay.


Parc Oméga:


This is a unique place in Quebec that was built to observe animals that roam free in their natural habitat. Here, you can observe the wolf from up close and even sleep amongst them. It is a bit less “wild” than other places on my list as it is built like a zoo, but the animals are free, and the land is extremely large which still qualifies it as wild. The park is located near Montreal in Montebello.


Best Time to See Wolves:


Wolves can be found all year round in Quebec. The best time to see them like most animals will be in the early morning and at dusk when they are most active.



Photo by Tom King on Unsplash

Seal


In Quebec there are four different species of seals. There are many different places in Quebec where you can observe seals from. I have personally seen seals in Tadoussac, Sept-Iles, Gaspé, Percé, Havre Saint-Pierre, and other places during our long car rides. They are a very common animals and are not very hard to find. Seals are usually scared but can be very curious. If you do see one approach carefully and to try not to scare it away.


Where to Find Seals in Quebec:


Bic National Park:


The park emblem is the harbour seal. It is the best place in Quebec to watch seals from the shore as it likes to use the park’s rocks to rest near the coves and bays. To find seals in the Bic Park it will depend on the tide. If it is high tide, it is recommended to head to Pointe aux Épinettes. During a low tide, you should head to Cap Caribou. Please keep in mind that you should never approach the seals when they are resting. There will be signs in the park indicating what distance you should keep from the seals.


Gaspé Bay:


Located in the Gaspésie region, this is also a great place to observe seals. There are many companies that offer zodiac tours to observe the seals from very close in the water.


Sept-Iles:


Sept-Iles is such an underrated city. There are many fun things to do here and great things to see including seals. If you are on the lower north shore, I would recommend booking an island tour with Les Croisières du Capitaine and you will surely see some seals who like to rest on the rocks that can be found in the bay.


Magdalen Islands:


This is a unique place to watch seals. It is known for the harp seal that comes to give birth during the month of March near the island. Here you can find beautiful white baby seals and it is quite a unique sight in Quebec. There are tour operators that will take you on the water to observe the seals up close.


Best Time to See Seals:


The best time to see seals in Quebec would be all year long. They are usually active at all times of the day. You might have to check with boat operators to make sure that you can book excursions if you plan on going during the off season.



Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash

Bald Eagle


Not an animal that you expect to find in Quebec is the bald eagle. It is known as the emblem of the United States and it is not an animal that is very easy to find in Quebec. However, there is a place where the bald eagle is known to be seen quite frequently, it is the best place in Quebec to observe the bald eagle.


Where to Find Bald Eagles in Quebec:


In the Lac-Temiscouata National Park near Riviere-du-Loup, the bald eagle can be observed quite frequently. The park has even chosen the bald eagle as its emblem. Bald Eagles will often be seen flying quite high in the air or perched on trees, but if you are patient, you may be lucky enough to see it catch prey or stand near the ground.


To see bald eagles in the park, I would recommend taking the Riviere-des-Memoires Trail where bald eagles are usually seen flying on top of the trail.


Best Time to See Bald Eagles:


Bald Eagles are present in the park all year round. The best time of day to see the bald eagle would be in the early morning or at dusk when they are most active and when there is less human activity.


I hope you enjoyed the article as I worked really hard on getting all the information ready for you to use. I would love to see any of your animal pictures if you do decide to visit one of my recommended locations. Come back here and post a link below so I can see your pictures.


If you enjoyed the article or have some more questions, feel free to leave a comment below as I am sure other people might have some similar questions.

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