Located in northern Manitoba, Wapusk National Park of Canada was established in 1996. Wapusk, the Cree word for “white bear,” is a fitting name as the park protects one of the world’s largest known polar bear maternity denning areas.
Wapusk National Park represents the diverse natural heritage of the Hudson-James Lowlands natural region. The park is 11,474 km2 in size and lies on a flat limestone plain that slopes towards Hudson Bay.
The land has been slowly rising (isostatic rebound) since the retreat of the last continental glaciers, about 9,000 years ago. As a result, beach ridges are a prominent feature and are found as much as 100 kilometers inland. The plain is covered by the most extensive mantle of peat in North America. Continuous permafrost lies beneath the surface of most of the park. Water is everywhere, covering half of the land’s surface with lakes, bogs, fens, streams and rivers.
The area is known for its polar bears, huge numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds, a variety of birds of prey, woodland caribou, beaver, red fox, arctic fox, wolverine, martin, ermine, otter, mink, lynx, timber wolf and black bear.
The park includes a variety of vegetation types, ranging from dry beach ridge plant communities and salt marshes on the coast, through sedge meadows, lichen and shrub tundra, and open spruce woodland in the interior.