ALASKA — Wildlife can be found everywhere in Alaska, from cities where moose, bears and wolves roam to more than 18 million acres designated by Congress as wilderness areas as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. However, most refuges in Alaska require travel via air transport, making them difficult and expensive to reach.
There are opportunities for wildlife viewing year-round.
April-May: Flocks of geese, ducks, swans, cranes, loons and shorebirds arrive by the thousands from southern climes, feeding in wetland areas. In interior and mountainous areas, bears, wolves, foxes and wolverines can be spotted in melting snows, and fresh vegetation at lower south-facing mountains attracts Dall sheep, mountain goats and bears.
June-August: Forests host a myriad of songbirds, while the tundra host nesting shorebirds, waterfowl and birds of prey. Colonies of seabirds nesting on coastal cliffs and islands also produce young ones. Salmon returning from the ocean lure hungry black and brown bears. Humpback and other whales feed in southern coastal waters, as do sea lions, seals and porpoises. On the Northern coastal tundra, Arctic caribou migrate.
September-November: Geese, cranes and other waterfowl gather in coastal wetlands to begin their migration south. It is also mating season for moose goats, sheep, caribou and musk-oxen, as fall turns to winter.
December-March: Wolves, moose, deer, lynx, marten, mink, river otter and fox can be detected by their footprints in snow. Bald eagles, sea ducks, seabirds, seals, sea lions and sea otters spend winter along southern coastal waters. Bird feeders in forested areas attract chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, redpolls, jays, grosbeaks and other birds. Moose are easily spotted on trails and roads around southcentral Alaska, prompting motorists and hikers to move with caution. In March, the northward bird migration begins anew in southeast Alaska.