Great Land of Alaska

Land Animals

Black Bear

Bear poking head out of dumpster Bear munching on garbage Two bears eating garbage

Bears will hunt or forage for food, but they are opportunisic feeders and will take advantage of a dumpster--such as this one located near the apartment I lived at in Chugiak--if it contains something that smells good.

Bear on river bank Bear on river bank

Black Bears, like Brown Bears, will catch and eat fish. This one was wandering the banks of the Kenai River looking for some spawned-out salmon to snack on.

Scratched tree

Here's a picture taken at Mike's bear baiting station--a Black Bear, attracted by his bait, left its signature on a spruce tree. The barrell of a 12-guage shotgun and an American quarter are provided for scale.

Brown Bear

Brown bear in distance

See the little brown spot below the pond? Believe me, that really is a brown bear. The Brown Bear (also knows as the Grizzly Bear, depending upon where it lives) is the world's largest land-dwelling omnivore. It seems just as happy eating berries as eating fresh moose meat.

Bear on river bank Bear on river bank

Here is a common sight along the Kenai River during salmon season--a large Brown Bear wandering along the river bank during the river's huge Sockeye Salmon run.

Bear heading towards fishermen Bear swimming towards fishermen

Here is a near disaster. Two fishermen (visible behind the leaves in the first picture) were initially unaware of the large Grizzly heading towards them just around the corner. A passing motorist on the other side of the river warned them of the approaching bear and they were making preparations to launch their boat when this picture was taken. The Grizzly followed them into the water and attempted to follow their boat but they were able to out-paddle it (second picture). The current carried the swimming bear towards the location where this picture was taken from so I left when the bear was about halfway across.

Caribou

Sparring caribou

Caribou inhabit open and semi-open areas where they forage for their food, grasses and lichens. They are the only deer in which both males and females grow antlers.

Caribou in pen

I kind of cheated to get this close-up picture of a caribou; this one is on display in a pen at the Santa Claus House in North Pole (yes, there really is a town called North Pole in Alaska).

Dall Sheep

Dall sheep on rocks Dall sheep on rocks Dall sheep on rocks Dall sheep on rocks Dall sheep on rocks

Dall Sheep in habits many of the mountains of southcentral Alaska. They are a popular sight among tourists along a section of the Seward Highway where they often come down to the highway. The are very sure-footed and seem to have no trouble climbing up and down the steep rocky mountain sides.

Hoary Marmot

Marmot on rocks

The Hoary Marmot is the largest member of the squirrel family. They are usually found high in the mountains above the treeline where they make their homes by burrowing into the ground.

Moose

Bull moose beside road Moose family crossing road
Moose grazing by road Moose and mountains
Moose in bushes Moose in the forest
Moose grazing beside highway Small group of moose
Moose eating tree in snow Cow moose and her calf
Moose on a cold frosty day Moose in a snowy gravel pit
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Of all the large wildlife living in Alaska, the moose is the one you're most likely to see, especially in and around Anchorage since it's been estimated that there's approximately 1,000 moose living in the Anchorage bowl. Most other highly populated communities along the highway system commonly have moose wandering in and through town. These moose are used to the noise of people, dogs, and cars compared to moose in more sparsely populated areas.

Moose family crossing road

In Alaska, moose always have the right-of-way even when they're jaywalking.

Man petting a moose

Petting a moose is OK here because this moose was raised around people and is behind a fence. I would not recommend trying this with a wild moose.

Musk Ox

Musk ox grazing

Musk Ox, once plentiful in Alaska, were completely wiped out by hunters in the 1800's. Since then, Musk Ox from other parts of the world have been transplanted to the wilds of Alaska and their numbers are steadily increasing. This Musk Ox here isn't a wild one, but lives on a farm in Palmer where their valuable Qiviut (fine hair) is collected through combing the Oxen and used to make clothing.

Despite the name "Musk Ox", they are not ox and do not have musk. They are more closely related to goats and sheep than to oxen.

Squirrel

Squirrel eating from bird feeder Squirrel among the branches Squirrel climbing the tree trunk Squirrel posing on the walkway

Intelligent and inquisitive, quirrels are common in Alaska. They live wild in the forests but many have taken to living in and around towns. Some people feed them and enjoy watching them while other people view them as a nuisance, especially when they're raiding food that was originally intended for birds.

Squirrel in front of rock Young squirrels

Arctic Ground Squirrels often occupy the same sort of environment as the Hoary Marmot--high in the mountains above the treeline. They are much smaller than a marmot and lack the characteristic bushy tail that most people think of when they think of squirrels.

Wolf print

Wolf print in snow

I've seen only two wolves in Alaska--one was little more than a shadow that I saw at night and the other was a blur as I passed it on the highway in the evening. This wolf print is the closest I've come to seeing a wolf in the daylight. The coin shown for size comparison is an American quarter.


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