Common, Dangerous And Endangered Animals In Alaska: Know Your Wildlife

Tanya Parkhi
Feb 29, 2024 By Tanya Parkhi
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Close-up of two brown bear running in winter forest.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.5 Min

The freezing, seemingly barren state of Alaska isn't where you'd expect wildlife to flourish.

However, you'd be surprised at how many species of animals and birds live here, their population thriving! Alaska's natural ecosystem works quite well when it comes to these wildlife species.

The Denali National park in Alaska houses most of these species, where their numbers are monitered. Alaska serves well for wild herds of animals as they are widely scattered and live mostly far away from any human encampments, giving them the room to grow as well as grants them protection from poachers and hunters. The natural wildlife of Alaska is rich and flourishing, with animals such as Caribou, moose, bears and seals being a common sight here.

Read on to know all about the animals that inhabit Alaska. If you enjoyed this article, check out our pages about animals in Arizona and animals in Hawaii.

Does Alaska have animals?

Despite having a freezing Arctic climate all year round, the Alaskan peninsula remains one of the world's richest biodiversity hotspots, hosting a variety of wildlife such as various types of fish, birds and polar animals.

Most wild animals in Alaska can be found in Denali National Park and Preserve, located between Fairbanks and Anchorage. As Denali National Park is naturally located in the middle of the state, it encompasses a large number of the animals that live in Alaska.

What animals are most common in Alaska?

The most common Alaskan animals include black and brown bears, grizzly bears, moose, caribou, bald eagles, wolves, Dall sheep, sea lions, porcupines and flying squirrels. Out of these, a large number of the species are predators and hunt on the weaker species.

The brown bear is the most common type of bear found in Alaska, which is the perfect habitat for this creature due to the abundance of salmon, fresh berries and small critters available for it to feast on. They usually hibernate from November to April, but are seen in almost every part of Alaska during the summer months.

Dall sheep are cliff climbing sheep that can be found frolicking around the mountains of Alaska. They have distinctive, circle-shaped ridges on their horns caused by seasonal growth patterns.

Most of the worlds salmon comes from the streams of Alaska, where it is farmed in huge numbers. All five species of Pacific salmon (king, coho, sockeye, pink, and chum) can be found here, spawning in the rivers of Refuge land and fueling the ecosystem with nutrients. Salmon also proves as a staple for many carnivorous wildlife species such as bears, seals and wolves.

Moose and Caribou are both types of deer that are commonly spotted in this state. The Caribou (reindeer) can be found in a huge herd, traveling together across Alaska. Though moose were not commonly spotted in Alaska in the early 1900s, they have now become an irrefutable part of the tundra landscape and these skittish mammals can be seen feeding on moss and vegetation while migrating across the frozen plains.

A large number of seabirds such as gulls, eiders, puffins and swans can also be seen dotting the coastal Alaskan tundra. The bald eagle can be seen circling around, on the lookout for any creatures to snatch up with its large talons.

White Fox in the snow.

How many types of animals live in Alaska?

Alaska is home to around 112 species of mammals, 530 different bird species, and a huge variety of fish and sharks which can be found off of its coasts.

This variety contains a number of rare animals and endangered species as well, such as the polar bear, Northern Sea otter and the Caribou.

Most Dangerous Animals In Alaska

Though creatures in Alaska may look cute and furry due to their immensely thick coats, some of these species can be very hostile and dangerous towards humans! The most dangerous animal on this list by far is the polar bear, which despite its cuddly, friendly appearance in media and cartoons, should not be approached at any cost! Being ravenous carnivores, polar bears are one of the few animals known to hunt humans for food. These gigantic creatures can grow up to 12 ft (3.7 m) tall and weigh up to 5000 lb (2268 kg).

Another giant creature is the walrus. Growing up to 16 ft (4.9 m) in length and weighing around 4000 lb (1814.4 kg), this marine, as well as land-dwelling mammal, is known to terrorize boats and kayaks that get too close. They are very territorial, and mothers guarding their pups are known to be especially aggressive. Their long, sharp tusks are their most dangerous weapons, and they are rarely seen outside of a herd. If you see a number of these critters lounging near the shoreline, it's better to turn around and get as far away as possible.

Black bears, brown bears, grizzly bears and glacier bears are the other species of bear which inhabit Alaska. Unlike the polar bear, which survives entirely on a carnivorous diet, these bears sustain themselves on a variety of fish (mainly Salmon), berries, rodents and carrion. Black bears will rarely attack humans as they follow a mostly vegetarian diet, and will at most see humans as intruders upon their territory and not food. However, the grizzly bear is less forgiving, known to be quite vicious and dangerous. Being one of the largest terrestrial predators in America, these territorial bears will attack without warning and due to their huge size, will make most certainly make short work of any human which comes in its way.

Moose, the largest members of the deer family, make an appearance on this list as well. Though they are not aggressive, they are easily frightened and quite skittish. They may mistake humans as intruders and run them over, their 1500 lb (680 kg) bodies and huge antlers causing a lot of damage and in extreme circumstances, even death. If confronted by a moose in the wild, it is wise to put some distance between you both and hide behind a barrier such as a large tree or a car.

Arctic wolves, though harmless if found alone, can be quite deadly in packs. These intelligent creatures have enough of a mind to possess a fear of man, and will usually keep away. However if ravenous and in a killing mood, these creatures will turn to create rack and ruin to every animal they see, leaving nothing unscathed.

It isn't truly North America unless there are bald eagles in the picture, and there's no surprise that these ferocious birds make an appearance here as well. Though these raptor birds will mostly stay away from humans, they have been observed to become territorial and vicious during the breeding season. Their huge size and large talons enable them to carry away small animals, so its always better to maintain your distance and keep an eye on any pets or small children with you, lest a circling bald eagle is in a bad mood that day.

Endangered Animals In Alaska

Being the largest state of America and mostly uninhabitable by humans, species of animals are quite widespread and remotely located throughout the state. This makes it possible for species that are endangered elsewhere to thrive in Alaska, as they are far away from any signs of civilization, the meaningless threat of hunting, poaching or being affected by any man-made developments.

The Northern sea otter is an animal whose populations have dwindled by around 55-65% during the last 40 years. This is mostly due to oil spills caused by passing ships, commercial harvesting, predation by killer whales, and entangled in fishing nets.

Polar bears, though one of the deadliest predators on the planet, are losing their home due to global warming and human development. They require sea ice and glaciers in order to reach seals, which are their primary source of food - which are rapidly melting and leaving them to starve to death. There are an estimated 4000 of these bears left in the world. Unlike brown and black bears who can survive on land, ice is crucial for the survival of these bears.

The wood bison, of which only 4000 remain, is actually extinct in Alaska. Efforts are being made in order to bring these bison back in a controlled environment and allow their population to grow naturally.

Alaskan bird species such as the spectacled eider and the shirt-tailed albatross are in danger of going extinct as well. The most probable cause for their decline is them being hunted down for their feathers, ingesting deadly items from the polluted waters or corrupted fish, or being preyed upon by killer whales, seals or bears in Alaska. Their numbers are closely being monitored, and efforts to ban hunting and change fishing practices in order to not put them into harms' way are being taken.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Animals in Alaska then why not take a look at animals that eat both plants and animals, or animals with opposable thumbs?

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Written by Tanya Parkhi

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya Parkhi picture

Tanya ParkhiBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.

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