Forests, Fish and Wildlife
Familiar Wildlife of PEI
Prior to European settlement, PEI shared most of the same species that occurred in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia including caribou, moose, Canada lynx, black bear, otter, pine marten and many others.
During the 1800s, the province saw large scale land clearances that fire resulted in some 70% of the Island's forest being cleared off for agriculture. By 1900, it is estimated that only about 30% of the province remained under forest cover and this forest was very different from the forest that preceded it in terms of species mixture, tree age and size. As well, the remaining forest was used intensively for building materials and firewood. This habitat loss, combined with few game hunting regulations, caused the extirpation of caribou, lynx, black bear, moose and pine marten from PEI.
While land clearing meant the loss of habitat for some species, its also created ideal habitat for others. Red fox, ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare, woodcock and many other species thrive in habitat consisting of young forests and small woodlots interspersed with mixed farmland and hedgerows. Some species were intentionally introduced to PEI such as gray (Hungarian) partridge and ring-necked pheasant. Others found their way by way of range expansion like bobolink, ducks such as pintails, wigeon, gadwall and ring-necked ducks. Our most recent new mammal species, the eastern coyote, most likely arrived by crossing the ice-filled Northumberland Strait in the late 70s or early 80s and today, coyotes are well established across the Island.Learn more about Prince Edward Island's furbearers, upland game species, and waterfowl by clicking on the links listed below.