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The caribou isn't the only worthy competitor for the title of National Animal

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People who are susceptible to bubonic plague should be careful around prairie dogs.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Polar Bear: Canada has the majority of the world’s polar bears. They are the largest land meat eaters in the world. Their meals on seals come six or seven days apart. They are so well-insulated that they overheat easily. Polar bears are unpredictable stealth hunters, creeping up on their prey. Their attacks on humans are almost always fatal. However, they can only run – their top speed is 40 km/h – for short sprints. With an omnivore’s diet that includes eggs, carrion and other polar bears, these animals live mostly solitary lives. Mothers with cubs are loving and attentive, until the day they dump them. Polar bears are endangered but they have cuteness on their side. - Michael Kesterton

Jonathan Hayward/Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Canada Goose: The ubiquitous Canada goose is migratory, but isn’t a fanatic about it. Some geese have settled in small localities in North America, where they can become semi-feral and annoying to people all the time. Canada geese found their own way to northern Europe, but they were introduced to New Zealand on purpose. Most complaints about the goose have to do with its active backside. Scientists say the bird produces one large dropping every three to four minutes. This adds up. The goose is also a heavy bird, which is dangerous to aircraft. Every fall, the sight of a V-formation of Canada geese heading south depresses a lot of people. - Michael Kesterton

Charlie Neibergall/Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

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Black Fly: This insect makes a bad impression on most people. Having scant fear of humans and only three weeks to live, the energetic black fly will crawl under a person’s clothing, find a shady nook and start biting – repeatedly. It’s always a female, bent on motherhood, slicing open a capillary to gulp some protein-rich blood. Her bite is painful or at least very irritating. Humans will never overpopulate Canada’s Far North, with its fragile ecosystems, as long as the black fly is guarding it. - Michael Kesterton

Philip S. Voystock Jr./Philip S. Voystock Jr./iStockPhoto

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Caribou: Author Joseph Boyden argues that this resilient animal is an ideal symbol: 'Caribou innately understand that strength exists in numbers, that they are better protected from hungry predators in the fall, the killing cold in winter, and the bloodsucking mosquito hordes that awake in the spring. The caribou recognizes, most importantly, that the good of the group, for much of the year, far outweighs the needs of the individual. What an incredible lesson for humans, if only we allow ourselves, for just a moment, to believe we can actually learn something from an animal so perfectly suited to its environment.'

John E Marriott/John E. Marriott/Corbis

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