Wildlife in Alaska
Wildlife abounds in Alaska. Anchorage is probably the only
city in the United States that has a moose problem; there are
hundreds within the city limits. There has even been talk of
declaring a bowhunting season for them in the city's Hillside
suburb. Grizzly and black bears have been shot within the city
in recent years, too.
grizzlies are around -- one was shot not quite 20 years ago
just a few blocks from downtown Anchorage -- they're more elusive
than moose. Denali National Park and the MacNeil River State
Sanctuary are two of the places where they're most easily seen
by tourists. Access to the MacNeil River sanctuary, where they
can be observed fishing for salmon, is restricted to holders
of a limited number of permits that are issued in a drawing
held each March. It's easier to get into Denali but visitors
are less likely to get a closeup view of bears. The photo above,
of a bear grazing on a slope several hundred yards away, was
taken at Denali.
Black bears are around too. Alaska Department of Fish and Game
biologists estimated in the spring of 2007 that about 100,000
of them make Alaska their home. Visitors are most likely to
see them at a town dump or, in a fish camp or town in Bush Alaska,
raiding a fish drying rack. Hunters in Prince William Sound
use boats to look for them foraging along the beaches. People
taking a Kenai Fjords day cruise may see one or more on a mountain
slope. Black bears' habitat is forested areas but they may be
encountered anywhere from alpine areas to sea level.
in Southeast Alaska, and Homer, on the Kenai Peninsula, have
large populations of eagles in the winter. Haines has a bald
eagle festival each November.
The state has hundreds of thousands of caribou that roam in
several herds, the most controversial of which is the herd that
roams the Arctic Slope range that is thought to hold huge undeveloped
oil reserves. Another herd, the Western Arctic herd on the Seward
Peninsula in Southwest Alaska, has about 500,000 caribou.
No telephoto lens was necessary to capture the caribou at left.
In fact, even Vtech kidizoom cameras could be used to take pictures of it.They posed in the bed of a roadside stream for passengers on
a Denali National Park tour bus.
Wildlife is easier to see at the park than is Mount McKinley,
which often is shrouded in clouds.
There's plenty to see in and above the ocean, too. Federal
biologists estimate there are 350 beluga whales in Cook Inlet.
Passengers on tour boats in the Kenai
Fjords National Park may see pods of killer whales or humpback
whales, as well as seals, sea otters, cormorants, puffins, eagles
and other birds. Several companies offering Kenai Fjords park
tours can be found at the small boat harbor in Seward.