Churchill Area

Wildlife of the Sub-Arctic


The Churchill Northern Studies Centre is located in the transitional zone between arctic tundra and boreal forest allowing residents and visitors alike to enjoy a wide variety of wildlife. The listing below is based on material compiled by Peter Scott, former Scientific Coordinator with the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, and furnished by Jack Dubois, former Curator of Mammals, Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature in Winnipeg.


Large Herbivores:


Moose (Alces alces) can occasionally be seen. Their habitat is marginal until well upriver.

Woodland caribou and barren ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus) are seen in small numbers in the Twin lakes area. Hunting pressure makes them less abundant harder to see as they avoid human contact.

Larger Mammals



The red bat (Lasiurus borealis) is rare.


Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) are fairly common and beaver (Castor canadensis) are present in fresh water and expanding in population size. Porcupine are present in low numbers.


Two species of hare live in the region: the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) and the arctic hare (Lepus arcticus). The arctic hare is the more common of the two.


The arctic fox (Canis lagopus) is cyclical and increasing in number. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is also present.


The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is a resident in low numbers near town. Wolverines are present but never abundant.


Mink (Mustela vison), martens (Martes americana), fishers (Martes pennanti), ermine (or short-tailed weasel) (Mustela erminea), and the least weasel are present.


The lynx (Felis lynx) population is recovering but seldom seen.


Black bears (Ursus americanus) are occasionally seen some distance from town. Barran ground grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) are also occasionally seen. The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) population is stable with about 1200 bears.

Small Mammals



The collared lemming (Dicrostonyx torquatus) is cyclical and is sometimes very common.


Gapper's red-backed vole (Clethrionomys gapperi), the heather vole (Phenacomys intermedius) and the meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) are common.


The house mouse (Mus musculus) and norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) live near the grain terminal at the port of Churchill. The meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius) is present in moist meadows or grassy areas.


Four species living in the area are the pygmy, arctic (Sorex arcticus), masked (Sorex cinereus)and water shrew (Sorex palustris).

Marine Mammals



Bearded seals (Erignatus barbatus) are increasing in population size.

Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) are the most common seal and their population size is increasing.

The population of ringed seals (Phoca hispida) is steady in numbers.

Other Marine Mammals

River otter (Lutra canadensis).


Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) are common in the river estuary in early July through August.

One minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) was seen in 1990.

There have been a few bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) sightings–one seen in 1984, 1988, 1991 and 2002 after 100 years absence.


The boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata maculata) and the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) are common in the Churchill region.




The following list is based on The Butterflies of Manitoba by P. Klassen, A.R. Westwood, W.B. Preston and W.B. McKillop.

* indicates butterflies whose known distribution in Manitoba is restricted to the Churchill region.

  • Persius Dusky Wing: (Erynnis persius)
  • Comma Skipper: (Hesperia comma)
  • Old World Swallowtail: (Papilio machao)
  • Western Checkered White: (Pontia occidentalis)
  • Cabbage White: (Pieris rapae)
  • Large Marble: (Euchloe ausonides)
  • Orange Sulphur: (Colias eurytheme)
  • Christina Sulphur: (Colia alexandra)
  • Artic Sulphur:* (Colias hecla)
  • Dorcas Copper: (Lycaena dorcas)
  • Hoary Elfin: (Incisalia polio)
  • Western Pine Elfin: (Incisalia eriphon)
  • Western Tailed Blue: (Everes amyntula)
  • Northern Blue: (Lycaeides idas)
  • Greenish Blue: (Plebejus saepiolus)
  • Yukon Blue: (Vacciniina optilete)
  • Arctic Blue: (Agriades glandon)
  • Silver Bordered Fritillary: (Boloria selene)
  • Polaris Fritillary:* (Boloria poloris)
  • Freija Fritillary: (Boloria freija)
  • Northern Pearl Crescent: (Pyciodes selenis)
  • Hoary Comma: (Polygonia gracilis)
  • Milbert's Tortoise Shell: (Nympholis milberti)
  • Red Admiral: (Vanessa cardui)
  • Disa Alpine: (Erebia disa)
  • Red Disked Alpine: (Erebia discoidalis)
  • Arctic Grayling:* (Oeneis)
  • Melissa Arctic:* (Oeneis)
  • Grizzled Skipper: (Pyrgus centaureae)
  • Canadian Tiger Swallowtail: (Papilio canadensis)
  • Veined White: (Pieris napi)
  • Nastes Sulphur:* (Colias nastes)
  • Giant Sulphur: (Colias gigantea)
  • Spring Azure: (Celastrina argiolus)
  • Silvery Blue: (Glaucopsyche lygdamus)
  • Bog Fritillary: (Boloria eunomia)
  • Frigga Fritillary: (Boloria frigga)
  • Purple Lesser Fritillary: (Boloria titania)
  • Mourning Cloak: (Nymphalis antiopa)
  • Painted Lady: (Vanessa cardui)
  • Ross's Alpine: (Erebia rossii)
  • Theano Alpine:* (Erebia thearo)
  • Jutta Arctic: (Oeneis)
  • Polixenes Arctic:*(Oeneis)

Churchill Attractions


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