The Cariboo Chilcotin is a wildlife viewing extravaganza. The variety of micro ecosystems found in this region provide habitat for a large number of wildlife species, many of which are at the limits of their range in the province.
Almost 40% of all BC’s species at risk live in the grassland ecosystems of the Cariboo Chilcotin. Most of the grasslands in the Cariboo Chilcotin lie along the Fraser River Basin from the Big Bar area in the south, to the steep valley walls and golden terraces and benches of Churn Creek to the north. Smaller grassland patches are scattered all throughout the region.
Big Horn Sheep
Roaming the terraces and traveling the ravines of the rugged Fraser River canyons are the largest population of native California bighorn sheep in North America. These local bighorn sheep herds have been used to restock herds in other parts of North America! This area is critical for breeding, lambing, and winter range. Sure footed, these bighorn sheep graze the dry grasslands and steep slopes along the Fraser and Chilcotin rivers.
On occasion you may also spot mountain goats along the river. Almost completely white, they are easier to spot than the more camouflaged bighorn sheep.
Eagles and Salmon
The Fraser River’s annual salmon migration attracts numerous eagles that feast on the spawning salmon. This annual event is critical to the well being of the entire ecosystem. Bald and golden eagles are plentiful and are frequently viewed along the river.
Moose, Bears, Bats and more!
The wetlands and riparian areas of the Fraser Plateau attract large numbers of waterfowl species. Moose also rely on shrub-carr and wetlands and are numerous throughout the region. Mule deer are most numerous in the grasslands along the Fraser River, moving up into the higher plateaus as the year progresses.
Black bear are often seen along the river foraging for food.
Spotted frog, western toad and western garter snake are found from grasslands to alpine while the northernmost extent of the gopher snake and the rubber boa coincides with the limits of big sagebrush.
The forests of the Cariboo Chilcotin are home to the largest species of bat in Canada, the Spotted Bat, with ears approximately 4 cm in length, and a wingspan of around 35 cm. Unlike most bats, its call may be heard by humans. The spotted bat and many other species of bats hunt insects from dusk until dawn, both within the forests and over the open water. Since they hunt from dusk until dawn, they are seldom seen, but play an important role in our forest ecosystem.