Caribous. Parc de Kuruurjuaq.Robert Fréchette, KRG
The park’s wildlife is relatively varied given the large diversity of habitats. The territory nurtures a dozen species of marine mammals, several forest birds, 24 species of land mammals, and almost as many species of fish.
The ringed seal (natsiq) is the most common of the four species of seal that may be observed along the park’s coastal sector. The fur on the back of the ringed seal is dark grey with a spattering of pale rings and its belly is silvery grey. Ringed seal are mostly present in the spring and fall in the George River estuary and along the coast of Ungava Bay. These waters are also frequented in the summer by beluga whale. Beluga calves, which are born at the end of May, initially have a dark grey colouring that fades progressively as the animal ages. At the mouth of the Koroc River, belugas gorge on the various species of fish present.
Arctic char, brook trout, whitefish, lake trout and Atlantic salmon are some of the fish species that inhabit the Koroc River. Arctic char is by far the most common and in the Inuit language is designated by several different names: aupalajaak describes the fish during the spawning period at the end of the summer when its belly is red, iqalupik is used to refer to the annual migrator and nutillik to their landlocked cousin.
The sheltered valley of the Koroc River nurtures a greater variety of animals than is typically encountered in a northern environment. In the park, for example, there are red and arctic foxes, spruce grouse and willow ptarmigan, as well as black bears and polar bears. It may be noted that, while the black bear is found in the Koroc River valley (the northern extremity of its range) in the summer, the polar bear is an infrequent winter visitor.
Caribou (tuktuq) however are often the main attraction. Two herds may be observed in the park. While the George River caribou herd remains one of the largest herds of tundra caribou in Québec, the size of the mountain caribou herd that roams in the Torngat Mountains is much smaller and less well known. This herd is being monitored by telemetry to improve general knowledge about it.
It is important to note that, although hunting and trapping are prohibited in Québec national parks, the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) and the Act respecting Hunting and Fishing Rights in the James Bay and New Québec Territories guarantee the right of JBNQA beneficiaries (Inuit) to carry out subsistence harvesting activities throughout Nunavik, including in Parc national Kuururjuaq. The practice of caribou or ringed seal hunting by Inuit, or fox trapping, are therefore potential components of the Nunavik park experience.