With Alaska’s vast wilderness, it is no surprise that there’s a lot of wildlife in the state. There are three types of bears, polar, black, and brown, and as is self-evident the most prevalent through most of the state are the brown and black. Enjoying the peace and quiet while trekking to see a glacier, my daughter kept scuffing her feet through the leaves which after a while was, honestly, annoying. Her reply to my request to stop was “I’m doing this in case there are any bears nearby”. That gave me a moment’s pause and I shut up. Bears sometimes show up in the yards of homes in more remote areas, but usually aren’t seen in the more urban locales.
There are also caribou and reindeer which as it turns out are the same animal differing only in the fact that caribou grow wild and free whereas reindeer are generally domesticated. While visiting with Alicia’s friends, I asked the husband why beef is mixed with reindeer when cooking which seemed unnecessary. He explained that the reindeer is so lean that the more fatty beef is needed in order to properly prepare it for consumption. From personal experience, I can tell you that I really like reindeer sausage. So good. I’m glad there’s plenty in the freezer.
There are mountain goats and Dall sheep who reside on the higher elevations of the mountains walking easily over the rough terrain, eagles flying over us all, and foxes scurrying from here to there in search of their next meal. A variety of birds are everywhere, but the most common is the raven. The ravens are so large they look like small chickens. One waddled around a parking lot and I wondered how he even flew. Aerodynamics have got to be tough for him.
By far, the most common native wildlife is the moose. They are everywhere and I do mean everywhere. Look for the definition of roam and you’ll see their picture there. With a weight of about 1200 – 1600 pounds, you don’t want to meet one on the highway which unfortunately happens all too often. One moose will feed a family for an entire winter. Their large population is controlled by bears and wolves who generally seek out the calves while humans hunt the adults. (Photo courtesy of Will Deaver)
Everywhere you go there are sights to see with animals looking at you in askance as to why you’re treading on their home ground. Just smile and wave unless it’s a bear or a moose.