Aulavik National Park - Canada, NWT
Aulavik National Park, in the Northwest Territories of Canada, is located on the north end of Banks Island, the most westerly island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Established in 1992, it has an area of 12,274 sqkm with arctic wildlife and plant life, windswept tundra and broad river valleys. One of Canada’s newest parks, it represents the Western Arctic Lowlands natural region. Aulavik is considered a polar desert and often experiences high winds. The park’s rugged landscape is dissected by the winding Thomsen River, the most northerly navigable river in the world. Aulavik National Park has two major bays, Castel Bay and Mercy Bay, and lies south of the McClure Strait. The only community on the island is Sachs Harbour. Captain Robert McClure, spent two winters in Mercy Bay on HMS Investigator, while searching for the missing John Franklin's lost expedition between 1850 and 1853. McClure's team abandoned their ship in Mercy Bay and hiked across the sea-ice of the strait to board another ship, HMS Resolute. The park has the highest concentration of muskoxen on earth, with estimates of 68,000 to 80,000 animals on the island, approximately 20% of which are thought to reside in the park. It is also home to the endangered Peary caribou as well as the more common barren-ground caribou. Ptarmigan and ravens are considered the only year-round birds in the park, although 43 different species make seasonal use of the area. The park is completely treeless, and Arctic foxes, brown and northern collared lemmings, Arctic hares and wolves roam the rugged terrain. Birds of prey in the park include snowy owls, rough-legged hawks, gyrfalcons, and peregrine falcons, who feed on the lemmings.