Point Pelee National Park of Canada

by admin on June 6, 2010 · 0 comments

Point Pelee is located in Essex County; near Leamington. Its tip is the southernmost point in Canada, and is near the same latitude as northern California. It is only 15 km² but is visited by 400,000 people each year. Point Pelee was made a national park in 1918 at the urging of birders and hunters. Commercial fishing continued in the park until 1969. Point Pelee was the only Canadian national park to allow hunting until duck hunting was ended in 1989. This site was named “Pointe-Pelée” or “bare point” by French explorers because the eastern side was rocky and had no trees. Point Pelee is known for attracting over 380 species of birds including many songbirds. The real show is when monarchs gather here between August and October, because it’s the shortest crossing point over Lake Erie during their 3000 km journey to their winter home in the mountains of central Mexico. The Great Lakes are a significant barrier to the monarchs’ migration. As they move south, they search for shorter ways across the lake and the Pelee peninsula provides an excellent start! Point Pelee’s shape funnels the monarchs to the tip. If the weather is cold, they will roost in trees and wait for warmer temperatures and favourable winds to cross the lake. If the weather is warm, they will often go directly across the lake without stopping in the park.

Ancient Native legends have told of waves of monarch butterflies heading southward in the autumn. For thousands of years, their destination was unknown. In 1975, the monarchs’ overwintering grounds were officially discovered by Dr. Fred Urquhart of the University of Toronto. Following reports of butterflies he and others had tagged in Canada, Dr. Urquhart was led to the evergreen forests high in the volcanic mountains of central Mexico. There he discovered the monarch.

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