Wildlife ... in every direction
Alaska offers unparalleled opportunities to observe and photograph wildlife. The variety and
impressive numbers of mammals, birds and marine wildlife in Alaska draw visitors from all over
There are 12 species of big game, including some not found in the Lower 48. Approximate
numbers of some Alaskan mammals are 144,000-166,000 moose; 950,000 caribou; 60,000
to 80,000 Dall sheep; 32,000-43,000 brown bear; 100,000-200,000 black bear; 5,900-
7,200 wolves; 2,100 musk oxen; 13,000-15,000 mountain goats; and, 350,000-400,000
Nearly 430 species of birds can be found in Alaska, including
ducks, geese, swans and the millions of seabirds that nest in colonies
along Alaska’s coastlines. Some migratory birds travel up to 20,000
miles on their round-trip journeys to Alaska. The spring concentration
of shorebirds is one of the most impressive sights in the world.
Alaska is the best place in the country to view our national symbol,
the American Bald Eagle. The Chilkat River near Haines is home to
over 3,000 bald eagles each fall when they arrive to feed on the late
run of salmon. Alaska is a birder’s heaven.
Alaska’s shorelines are home to an abundance of marine life,
including stellar sea lions, walrus, whales, seals and sea otters. The
world’s largest colony of seals, numbering over one million, breeds
undisturbed on the Pribilof Islands. Sixteen species of whales have
been identified in Alaska’s waters. Increasing numbers of visitors
arrange whale-watching tours during migration in hopes of witnessing the massive mammal
"breach" high above the water level. Sea otters are amusing creatures to watch. They are
playful and are often seen carrying their young on their chest.
In order to increase your sightings of Alaskan wildlife, it is a good idea to educate yourself on
how, where and when to locate animals. Learn the details of an animal’s environment to be able
to look in the right places. For example, most mammals and birds are active in early morning
and late evening. This is the reason wildlife-viewing tours in Denali National Park depart only
early and late in the day. You must also look carefully and listen. Carry binoculars or a spotting
scope to scan the hillsides and valleys. There are few rewards as great as spotting Alaska’s
magnificent animal life in the scenic beauty of their natural habitats.