Climatic conditions have less influence on wild life than on vegetation, but a real picture of the vegetation cover would be incomplete without a short reference to "hosts of the forests". Game, fur bearing animals, water fowl live in more or less close association with one another in the wildest parts of our forest. Their fear is the presence of man, looked upon as a common foe. Quebec has four main wild life zones.
The Arctic Life Zonea
Its extent is the same as that of the tundra. Typical land mammals are: the Barren Ground caribou, on which the natives depended largely for food and clothing, but that is decreasing greatly, and could perhaps be replaced by domesticated reindeer in Ungava peninsula; polar bear, whose meat is used as dog food, and fur for bedding and robes; and Arctic fox, chief fur bearing animal of the native hunters. The fox is a scavenger along the coast and its chief prey is lemming and other small rodents. Sea mammals are walrus, hunted mostly for its ivory tusks (a practice that is discouraged), two kinds of seals: the ringed seal and bearded seal, which affords the staple diet of the Eskimo (skins are used for clothing and boat building, blubber for heating and cooking lamps), white whales and narwhal in certain coastal areas. The most common food fish is the Arctic char; and among the various species of birds, the snowy owl and ptarmigan are to be mentioned.
The Hudsonian Life Zone
It extends from the timber limit to the south of James Bay, Lake Mistassini and Pointe des Monts on the North Shore. There are few animals limited to this zone; but it is visited and becomes the habitat of more southern species, seeking refuge away from the settlements. The mammals of the Arctic meet with those of the woodland. The caribou is a typical example of a migrating species. Brown bears are seen in the interior, while the polar bear does not leave the arctic shores. Ptarmigan overlaps the range of spruce grouse. Fur bearing animals are plentiful in places. Indians from the North Shore and from Mistassini posts wander in winter time over the whole area; their annual catch includes, in order of importance: beaver, mink, muskrat, marten, foxes (specially red), lynx, ermine, otter and seals.
The Canadian Life Zone
It extends over most of Southern Quebec both sides of the St. Lawrence Lowlands. Here is the typical habitat of the many fur-bearing animals mentioned above and others such as fisher, skunk, squirrel, porcupine, hares and rabbits. The moose is the largest mammal (pride of the sportsman); smaller deer, black bear and wolves are also to be seen occasionally. The number of bird species is greater than northward: sparrows, warblers, thrushes, jays and woodpeckers, but the hunters look specially for the spruce and sharp-tail grouse. Migrating water fowl, ducks and geese, have two of their main flyways in North America over Quebec; the Atlantic flyway and that of the Mississippi.
The Transition or Alleghanian Life Zone
Quebec has a very small extension of this zone, which is more widespread in Southeastern Ontario. The Lowlands being wholly settled, few species of wild life are to be found here: gray and red squirrels, cottontail rabbit, wood-chuck, striped skunk, racoon and wild cat. The birds are all those familiar to settled areas: sparrows, bluebirds, woodthrush, vireos, etc.
It has already been shown in a previous section that several soil zones cross the province of Quebec. Further detail is possible only in the southern part of the province where soil surveys have been carried on for a number of years, although no general map on a provincial scale has yet been published. While not perfect, there is a strong correlation between land form region and soil region. The St. Lawrence Lowland is characterized by deciduous forest and a type of soil development which normally produces Grey-Brown Podzolic soils. The Appalachian Highlands and the Canadian Shield, on the other hand, normally have Podzols and Brown Podzolic soils.