Manitoulin Island is a very idyllic spot that attracts thousands of visitors looking to commune a little more closely with nature. Birdwatchers, hikers, and even foragers travel from far and wide to experience what the Island has to offer. But what about larger mammals like moose? Are visitors likely to see them here?
The moose has been an important part of the historical diet and culture of local Indigenous peoples. If you’re traveling north to try and catch a glimpse of some of Ontario’s biggest fauna, here’s what you can expect.
Are There Moose On Manitoulin Island?
Manitoulin is a highly regarded area for spotting many kinds of wildlife, but moose is a little rarer than other species, and there is no hunting season for them here. When someone does see moose around or catches one on film, it’s likely to make the news!
Moose can sometimes make their way here over ice and, even more rarely, by swimming. While you might not guess by looking at them, moose are excellent swimmers, going at 6 miles per hour for hours at a time. It’s a faster pace than even the best Olympic swimmers, including Michael Phelps! Moose can even hold their breath underwater for a full minute.
Visitors should not expect to see moose when visiting Manitoulin. Here, there is a large deer population, as well as more elusive mammals like black bears, bobcats, river otters, beavers, and porcupines.
Moose And Manitoulin’s Indigenous History
Historically, there is evidence that there was a moose population on the island. Despite the lack of a viable moose population here today, the animal was important to the Indigenous peoples who live and historically traded and hunted off-island. The Anishinaabe tribes were far-reaching across Ontario and the United States, and those living on Manitoulin Island would travel off it for hunting and trade with other tribes. As such, moosehide was used for traditional clothing and in crafts.
Visitors on the Great Spirit Circle Trail in M’Chigeeng can learn about the Anishinabek cuisine that includes corn, rice, and moose meat. It’s a delicious way to learn about First Nations traditions on the Island and try a unique cuisine. The lack of local hunting means we don’t feature moose on our menu!
Will Moose Return To Manitoulin Island?
Moose populations in Ontario are struggling; predation, parasites, habitat conditions, and low calf numbers all contribute to downward shifts across Northern Ontario. This isn’t exclusive to our province, though; Manitoba and the state of Minnesota have also seen some decline in certain parts. Ontario continues to watch moose numbers closely to ensure that populations are sustainable and hunting can continue.
If you’re really in the mood for some moose watching, make a trip through a provincial park on your way up to Manitoulin Island. Any excuse to see more of nature’s beauty is a great way to spend a vacation!