WHISTLER WILDLIFEVisitors to Whistler often leave their holiday with being treated to a wildlife sighting after exploring the area. Black bears are common and can be found roaming valleys and foraging along mountain slopes. The Whistler Gondola is a fun way to take in the local wildlife, with many visitors seeing bears, marmots and deer. Once you reach the top of the gondola keep your eyes peeled for smaller mammals such as pika and birds such as the whiskey jack who like to hang out in the alpine ski areas. The whiskey jack is Whistler’s most notorious bird that is well known for stealing food directly from the hands of unsuspecting hikers. Other feathered friends include eagles, red-tailed hawks, grouse and osprey.
Whistler was named after the marmot which is a small and stocky creature that loves to sunbathe all day. The name comes from the whistling sound these local animals make. If you’re trying to spot a marmot, look for their bushy brown tails and whitish bellies while they are soaking in the sun stretched out on rocks. When not out in the open they live in burrows that can run up to 12m/39ft underground. Remember to keep your ears open, their shrill whistles warn other marmots of potential danger and can be heard throughout Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. On a hike through the mountainous Whistler trails, you have the opportunity to come across a variety of creatures. One of the hardest animals to spot is the pika. Pikas are related to rabbits and are quick and shy with round ears. They can be are found grazing on rocky slopes.
50 black bears call Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains home. Local bear researcher, Michael Allen has been conducting research for more than 10 years and is the local authority on bears and has identified a total of eight bear families. Interestingly enough, one of the oldest bears he identified is Hazel who is thought to be between 10 to 15 years old. The second identified bear in Whistler is called Hanna. Hanna’s territory is central to Whistler Mountain and she is easily recognizable by her two white patches on the neck and chest. If it’s bear sightings you are interested in, Michael Allen offers guided tours that will bring you direct to bear dens, daybeds and feeding sites. Bear sightings are also very common on The Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Course. This past summer there have been over 8 different bears that have been viewed on a number of occasions. If playing a round of 18 holes, golfers are almost guaranteed a sighting of these playful black bears.
If it’s marine life you are interested in viewing, Whistler has five lakes and many streams that offer excellent wildlife viewing. You can take a guided canoe tour, walk along meandering paths or rent a canoe and paddle around. Crabapple Creek in May and June is home to rainbow trout that can be seen spawning. If you are visiting Whistler in September and October keep your eyes open for the kokanee salmon. Millar Creek offers another beautiful place to take in the rainbow trout during their spawning season of very early summer.