Alaska wildlife: A complete guide

Enthusiastic about Alaska wildlife? Take a guide with Animals around the globe to learn about the many species of fauna and flora endemic to the state. Alaska Peninsula provides important habitat for fish and wildlife.


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About Alaska

Many visitors venture to Alaska to see the jaw-dropping scenery of unspoiled nature, majestic mountains, glaciers, fjords, crystal clear lakes, waterfalls and the National Parks.

Are you captivated yet? Read on or jump to your favourite headline…

About Alaska

Mammals

Marine Life

Birds

National Parks

Tour Operators

Summary

alaska
Orca breaching in Seward, Alaska

Alaska wildlife attractions

If you want to see wildlife, Alaska should most certainly be a priority on your ‘to see’ list. Bald eagles gather by the hundreds, moose cause traffic jams and millions of salmon spawn in its rivers. Take a guided tour through a national park or wildlife refuge to see moose and caribou or a boat tour to see otters, whales and porpoises. No matter the destination in Alaska, one may encounter varieties of expansive wildlife.

Best Alaska Wildlife Viewing Spots

  • Point Woronzof Road. This secluded area on the western edge of the city doesn’t get much attention from humans, but the forest is a favorite spot for moose.
  • Kincaid Park.
  • Campbell Creek Estuary.
  • Potter Marsh.
  • Eagle River Nature Center.
  • Turnagain Arm.
  • Ship Creek.

Alaska wildlife: Mammals

Bears

There are four different types of Alaska bear. The Brown bear (grizzly), Polar bearBlack bear, and the Glacier bear. There are a number of Alaska bear viewing opportunities available to visitors. Denali National Park is one of the most popular areas in Alaska to view bears in their natural habitat.

Brown/ Grizly Bear

Brown bears , also known as grizzlies, occur throughout Alaska except on islands south of Frederick Sound in southeast Alaska, west of Unimak in the Aleutian Chain, and Bering Sea islands.

Black Bear

Black bears (Ursus americanus) are the most abundant and widely distributed of the three species of North American bears. An estimated 100,000 black bears inhabit Alaska. The black bear is the smallest of the North American bears.

black bear

Kodiak Bear

The Kodiak bear , also known as the Kodiak brown bear, sometimes the “Alaskan brown bear”. The Kodiak bear is very similar to the other brown bear subspecies, such as the mainland grizzly bear.

Polar Bear

polar bear

Polar bears are most abundant near coastlines and toward the southern edge of the ice pack in polar regions. In Alaska, they can be found in the Far North and Western Arctic areas, usually on the frozen sea, but sometimes on land near towns like Barrow and Kotzebue.

Caribou

caribou
Majestic caribou bull in front of the mount Denali, ( mount Mckinley), Alaskal

Alaska has predominantly the barren-ground subspecies and one small herd of woodland caribou, the Chisana herd, which moves into Canada in the Wrangell-St. Elias area of Southcentral Alaska. Canada has three subspecies, the Peary, woodland and barren-ground. Caribou in Alaska are distributed in 32 herds or populations.

Moose

moose

About 175,000 to 200,000 moose are widely distributed throughout Alaska. In Alaskamoose live in a large area ranging from the Stikine River in Southeast Alaska all the way to the Colville River on the Arctic Slope.

Mountain Goat

In Alaska, mountain goats occur throughout the southeastern Panhandle, and north and west along the coastal mountains to Cook Inlet. Their range extends into the Talkeetna Mountains nearly to Denali National Park. It is estimated that 3,600 to 4,600 mountain goats occupy the Kenai Peninsula.

mountain goat

Bison

Plains bison (Bison bison bison) are the smaller of two subspecies of American bison found in North America, and they are an introduced, rather than native, species in Alaska. In 1928, 23 plains bison were moved from the National Bison Range in Montana to the Delta River area in Alaska’s Interior.

bison in alaska

Dall sheep

Dall Sheep inhabit the mountain ranges of Alaska. These white creatures are most notable for the males’ massive curled horns. Females (known as ewes) also carry horns, but theirs are shorter and more slender, and only slightly curved.

Wolves

Alaska is home to an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 wolves. Wolves have never been threatened or endangered in Alaska. The food habits of the wolf often bring it into conflict with humans who in many parts of the world are also hunters of big game animals.

wolves

The wolf can be found throughout mainland Alaska, on Unimak Island in the Aleutians, and on all of the major islands along the Inside Passage except Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof islands. This range includes about 85 percent of Alaska’s 586,000 square-mile area.

The Arctic fox

In Alaska, Arctic foxes migrate from their fall breeding grounds and travel to coastal areas, returning in late winter or early spring. Large-scale migrations have been recorded in Canada, Russia, and the Scandinavian peninsula, possibly a result of drastic reductions in available food supply.

arctic fox

The arctic fox is found in treeless coastal areas of Alaska from the Aleutian Islands north to Point Barrow and east to the Canada border. They prefer tundra habitat, usually near rocky shores, and have been observed ranging far out onto pack ice in winter.

Alaska wildlife: Marine life

Orcas and whales

Killer whales can be seen in southeast Alaska between early May and early June with whales more sporadically spotted in June through September. They can be seen in the waters of Resurrection Bay, near Seward, as well as throughout Southeast Alaska, with the largest abundance found near Juneau and Ketchikan.

Alaska plays host to a number of whale species, which either inhabit or migrate through its coastal waters. In the Kenai Fjords National Park region, Humpback, orca (killer whale), fin whale and gray whales are the most commonly sighted species.

orcas in alaska
Orca breaching in Seward, Alaska

Killer whales can be seen in southeast Alaska between early May and early June with whales more sporadically spotted in June through September. They can be seen in the waters of Resurrection Bay, near Seward, as well as throughout Southeast Alaska, with the largest abundance found near Juneau and Ketchikan.

The whales you can expect to see:

 In the Kenai Fjords National Park region, Humpback, orca (killer whale), fin whale and gray whales are the most commonly sighted species. However, for the lucky adventurers, blue, sperm and minke whales can also make an appearance in other regions of Alaska.

whales in alaska
Humpback whale tail with icy mountains backdrop Alaska

Whales can be seen throughout Alaska’s coastal waters—from the Gulf of Alaska in the south, to the eastern Bering Sea and northern Beaufort Sea. This is especially true during the prime summer season.

Salmon

Huge salmon runs return to Anchorage area rivers and streams each summer. This is where you may encounter 5 species of Alaska salmon: king (or chinook), red (sockeye), pink (humpys), silver (coho), and chum (sometimes called dog).

salmon

Best locations to witness the salmon run in Alaska:

  • Wrangell St. Elias National Park.
  • Glacier Bay National Park.
  • Katmai National Park.
  • Gates of the Arctic National Park.
  • Kobuk Valley National Park.

Sea otters and beavers

Sea otters are seen from the Aleutian Islands, across the Kenai Peninsula and the Gulf of Alaska, south to the Inside Passage and even down to British Columbia and Washington state. They tend to stick together in small communities and don’t range far unless food becomes scarce.

beaver

Sea otters are seen from the Aleutian Islands, across the Kenai Peninsula and the Gulf of Alaska, south to the Inside Passage and even down to British Columbia and Washington state.

Alaska Wildlife: Birds

Hundreds of bird speciess inhabit Alaska, especially in coastal regions. Some of the more notable birds in Alaska include:

Owls

Snowy, northern hawk, boreal and grey great owl are found throughout Alaska and are a privilege to witness!

owl

In facts, there are as many as ten species of owls in Alaska, inhabiting landscapes as diverse as the windblown, treeless tundra of the Arctic, the deep, still, boreal forest of the Interior, and the moss-draped rainforest of Southeast.

Puffins

In Alaskapuffins breed on coastal islands and headlands from Forrester Island in southeastern Alaska to Cape Lisburne on the Chukchi Sea Coast. Horned puffins are more prevalent farther north than tufted puffins

puffin

In Alaskapuffins breed on coastal islands and headlands from Forrester Island in southeastern Alaska to Cape Lisburne on the Chukchi Sea Coast. Horned puffins are more prevalent farther north than tufted puffins.

Gryfalcon

The Gyrfalcon thrives in some of the harshest climates on Earth. This denizen of the mountains and high arctic tundra is a circumpolar species, found throughout the region of the North Pole. It nests in the arctic and subarctic regions of North America, Europe, Asia, Greenland, and Iceland.

falcon
GYRFALCON

The gyrfalcon is found in open country, tundra, and mountains throughout much of Alaska and nests on rocky ledges. Breeding pairs do not build their own nests and often use a bare cliff ledge or the abandoned nest of other birds, particularly golden eagles and common ravens.

Bald eagle

Alaska has the largest population of bald eagles in the United States, about 30,000 birds. Bald eagles are often found along Alaska’s coast, offshore islands, and Interior lakes and rivers. Most bald eagles winter in southern Alaska but some leave the state during cold months.

eagle

The Chilkat Valley is the year-round home for between 200 and 400 eagles and more than 80 eagle nests have been observed in the preserve itself.

Alaska wildlife: National parks

With 17 national park units and 16 national wildlife refuges, the options may seem limitless. Luckily, Anchorage is in the center of it all and offers many ways to enjoy the parks.

Klondike Gold Rush National ParkKlondike Gold Rush National Park is the most visited national park unit in Alaska, with 912,350 visitors last year, according to a new National Park Service report. That’s nearly double the 587,400 who visited runner-up Denali or the 520,170 who sailed through Glacier Bay.

alaska

While the national parks are fantastic, don’t feel like you’re missing the Alaskan experience if you don’t have the chance to visit them. Many preserves, public lands and state parks provide equally wild spaces and spectacular views.

alaska national parks

For all national parks cick on the link provided.

Alaska wildlife: Operators

We have found some of the best and highly rated tour and conservation companies for different and awe inspiring wildlife and nature encounters. Take a look!

visit alaska

Alaska Wildlife Guide for incredible and tailored tours from the arctic circle to the intricacies of Alaskan culture and heritage. Specializing in Summer, Winter and Northern Lights tours!

Adventure Kodiak bear tours and cruises offer unique access to nature enthusiasts and animal ( especially bear) lovers.

Seaward wildlife tours offer encounters with the many marine animals that visit alaska on migration each year. From whales to Orcas, birds and beautiful landscapes from the ocean perspective. Small and personalized tours.

Alaska Wildlife Adventures provides excitement to foreigners who fall in love with Alaska through mountainous adventures and more!

Alaska wildlife Conservation Center: Visit orphaned and rehabilitated wildlife close up and personal, and by doing so contributing to the conservation and protection of other animals.

Alaska wildlife: Summary

Alaska is known for its vast and seemingly never-ending natural attractions that are home to diverse groups of wildlife. We highly recommend this state to any and all nature lovers across the globe.

If you enjoyed this blog then you may be interested in blogs about the US in general or about Wildlife in New York.

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