Below you can find a complete list of Alaskan animals. We currently track 155 animals in United States (Alaska) and are adding more every day!
Alaska is the largest of the 50 states of the United States, located on the northwest border of Canada. Because of its proximity to the North Pole, during the winter months, there are parts of Alaska that do not have sunlight for two months. In summer, those same areas do not have a sunset for nearly three months. Alaska’s climate primarily ranges between subarctic and tundra.
Despite its harsh climate and strange daylight hours, Alaska has an abundance of native wildlife, both common and rare. The northernmost state is home to 112 species of mammals, several species of large and small rodents, 530 different types of birds, and lots of other kinds of strange and wonderful wild animals. There are even three separate shark species found in the waters off the coast of Alaska. In total, there are around 1100 vertebrate species that call Alaska home. Many of these animals are dangerous, and several others are endangered.
The Official State Animals of Alaska
The State animal of Alaska is the moose (Alces alces). Moose, whose name comes from a native word, is the largest of the deer family, and stands nearly eight feet tall at the top of their antlers. These antlers, which only grow on male moose, can reach up to six feet in width. These antlers fall off every year of a moose’s 15-20 year life span, providing a winter food source for squirrels and other rodents. Moose can weigh up to 1800 and are dangerous to humans.
Alaska also has a state bird, which is the Willow Ptarmigan. While this bird is also found in parts of Canada, Alaska is the only state where this bird is found. It is one of only a handful of state birds that can be legally hunted. It is also one of the only Alaskan birds which does not migrate south in the winter. It was designated the official bird even before Alaska was recognized as one of the now 50 states.
Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Alaska
While many species are confined to single areas, moose, birds, and Alaska’s rodent population, which includes beavers, lemmings, voles, squirrels, porcupines, and hamsters, can be found all across the inhabited parts of the state.
A large portion of the wildlife in Alaska can be found in Denali National Park and Preserve, located between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It is said to be the least expensive of the parks and also to be best because it is located in the interior of the state. Some of the most common animals to be spotted in Denali and the interior are:
- Grizzly Bear – These bears are found all over the state. There is a larger subspecies found only on the Kodiak Islands that rival polar bears for size! These bears are extremely territorial and not at all afraid of humans. Unprovoked attacks are rare, but they do happen.
- Dall Sheep – These cliff climbing sheep are found all over the mountains of Alaska. They are solid white with curved and curled horns. The distinctive ridged circles on their horns are caused by the noncontinuous growth patterns, which are seasonal each year. They can live as long as 20 years in the wild, though 12 years is more common.
- Caribou – Caribou are a type of reindeer. They are most commonly called Porcupine Caribou, after the river that makes up part of their roaming grounds. During the summer, when mosquito populations are at their worst, caribou herds head onto the ice fields to avoid them. Though their numbers are still in the 10,000s, between 2010 and 2016, their population dropped by over 60 percent. The full reasons for this are unknown, though hunting undoubtedly was a partial factor.
- Wolves – The howl of a wolf is fairly unmistakable. For the most part, wolves are wary of humans and stay away. That is a very good thing because wolf packs are efficient predators and have been known to kill wildlife herds without eating any of the kills. All modern dogs can be traced back to wolves.
- Black Bear – There are about twice as many black bears in Alaska as any other bear. Unlike grizzlies, black bears are fairly docile and generally won’t attack unless they feel threatened. Their diet is mostly vegetarian.
- Flying Squirrel – Unlike other squirrels, flying squirrels have excess skin and fur that is webbed between their front and hind limbs. These strange flaps combined with their light weight allow them to float between distant branches. Though these gliding rodents are about a foot long from their nose to the tip of their tail, they weigh less than five ounces!
- Porcupine – These are Alaska’s second largest rodent, weighing in at nearly 15 pounds. Their diet consists of tree bark, buds and leaves. Their quills, successfully able to discourage all but a few predators, are often used by native tribes to adorn their traditional clothing.
There are several other state- and national parks in Alaska as well, all of which are recommended viewing locations for wildlife. Other places to see wildlife in Alaska include Chugach State Park, Katmai National Park, and Glacier Bay National Park.
The Most Dangerous Animals In Alaska Today
Believe it or not but the most dangerous (deadliest) animal in Alaska is actually dogs. Between 1992-2002 there were 9 dog-related deaths in the state. Below you’ll find some other dangerous creatures that call Alaska home.
- Moose – Though Moose are not predators they are one of Alaska’s most dangerous types of wildlife. Their immense height and weight, combined with their huge antlers and unpredictable nature, make them a serious danger to humans who happen upon one in the wild. These beasts can run up to 35 miles per hour.
- Polar Bears – Polar Bears definitely are predators, and very dangerous ones. Because of the extreme conditions in which they live, encounters between humans and Polar Bears are thankfully rare, but these gigantic hypercarnivores are ferocious and deadly. They can grow as tall as 12 feet and weigh as much as a full ton.
- Grizzly and Black Bears – Common throughout Alaska, both of these bears can be extremely dangerous. Grizzlies are very aggressive and territorial, while Black Bears will usually only attack if threatened or provoked, but avoiding both is recommended.
- Wolves – This living ancestor of all modern dogs can weigh as much as 150 pounds. It is rare for wolf packs to attack people, but they are capable of decimating a small herd of other animals, and could be dangerous to a human under the right conditions.
- Walrus – Walrus, who can live nearly 40 years, weigh more than twice as much as the largest recorded Polar Bear, and can grow up to 16 feet long. These strange and massive mammals have taken down small boats filled with people who got too close to their young.
Endangered Animals In Alaska
According to the IUCN Red List, the following are listed as vulnerable, threatened, or endangered.
- Northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) – In the last 40 years, sea otter populations have declined by between 55-65 percent. This was after commercial harvesting in the early 1900s had reduced their numbers to the hundreds. Suspected causes of their dwindling numbers include oil spills and other pollution, increased predation by killer whales, becoming ensnared in fishing nets, and interference caused by various other human activities.
- Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) – There are estimated to be about 4000 polar bears left in existence. The primary threat to them is habitat loss due to rising global temperatures. Polar bears require sea ice to survive and with melting polar ice caps on the rise, they are at risk of going extinct if nothing changes. Besides the melting ice, their dens are threatened by seismic survey practices.
- Spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri) – It is not known exactly what is causing the eider populations to decline. Possible causes are hunting for feathers, ingestion of lead shot by the eiders themselves, and an increase in predators. Their numbers are currently being closely monitored and attempts are being made to do away with or at least reduce the use of ammunition containing toxic lead.
- Short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) – These large seabirds only breed in two island locations, one of which has active volcanic activity. This volcanic activity combined with poor fishing practices and years of being hunted for their feathers has resulted in dwindling populations. Little can be done about the volcano, however, hunting these albatross is now outlawed, and fishing practices have been changed to decrease the mortality rate.
- Wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) – Only about 4000 Wood Bison remain, spread across seven wild herds. This bison has actually gone extinct within Alaska itself and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in coordination with the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, has been working toward releasing a currently captive herd of Wood Bison back into Alaska once their numbers are high enough.
The Largest Animal in Alaska
Also referred to as the mountain bison, the wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) is Alaska’s largest animal outdoing even its close cousin, the plains bison in the size stakes. Six feet tall at the shoulder, it is capable of tipping the scales at 2,000 lbs. The bearded bovine which is also recognizable by its curved horns also has a hump which slopes up from its shoulders and slopes down towards its middle.
There’s also that huge head, sturdy skeletal structure, and those immensely powerful muscles too which serve to shift piles of powdery snow to get to the nourishing grass buried beneath all that frost in winter.
Fun fact: The last sighting of a native member of this species occurred over a century ago. The current population of wood bison in Alaska are not native to the region but have been imported from Canada which has plenty to share.
The Rarest Animal in Alaska
It might be especially bountiful in rugged mountainous Colorado, sunny California, or verdant Oregon, but in Alaska, the cougar is pretty rare. Although experts report yearly sightings of America’s largest feline predator, the fact remains that the Last Frontier is far from the puma’s favorite state.
Which sort of places Alaska in the same company as Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas in this regard. Because there have been confirmed sightings of the mountain lion in each of these states. In Alaska, sightings of pumas are so rare that experts have reported that they have since been imbued with a mystical-like quality. The fact that they are incredibly elusive doesn’t help either, nor does the fact that most sightings are actually of lynx, rather than of the cat known as felix concolor. One subject of a particular series of sightings actually turned out to be a domestic canine with light-colored fur.
Lakes in Alaska
Alaska is home to more than 3 million bodies of water, with about 3,000 named lakes in its borders. Let’s take a look at some of the most incredible Alaskan lakes!
- Iliamna Lake: The eighth-largest lake in the United States and Alaska’s largest, this body of water is ideal for salmon and trout fishing. It is also the perfect spot for fans of wildlife thanks to the presence of fishing lodges which provide food and shelter, and the possibility of exploring its surface and surroundings on foot or by boat. Bears can be seen engaging in angling and catching delicious salmon, and freshwater seals too taking to the water gracefully.
- Skilak Lake: Fed by the Kenai River, this lake is home to mammoth king salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Vardens. It is notable for its pristine water, and rocky bed, as well as its great depth (528 feet). Its location is no less impressive as visitors will get to see the spruce and aspen forests along its shores which give way to the sheer walls of the surrounding valley. Its environs are also home to wildlife including black and brown bears, beavers, coyotes, moose, lynxes, and wolves.
- Kenai Lake: Renowned for the beauty of its waters which are a dazzling turquoise, Kenai Lake also serves as the headwaters of the river with which it shares its name. The body of water which has a zig-zagged shape, also flows past the Chugach Mountains. It is pretty large at 22 miles long, and has a depth of 540 feet at its deepest point.
Discover the Snowiest Place in Alaska
Although Alaska isn’t the snowiest state, it is home to Valdez, one of the snowiest cities in the entire United States. Valdez, Alaska has a subarctic climate and receives an average of 20 feet of snowfall each year.
The city provides stunning views of the snow-topped Chugach Mountains, and close by there is the Shoup Glacier. Valdez is also home to rainforests, tidewater glaciers, and caves, making it a perfect vacation spot for lovers of nature.
Valdez also boasts an abundance of marine and terrestrial wildlife including humpback whales, orcas, and sea lions. It is also a haven for birdwatchers and avian enthusiasts will be able to admire Arctic terns, Canada geese, cranes, herons, kingfishers, kittiwakes, oystercatchers, and plovers, busily going about their daily activities.
The Flag of Alaska
The flag of Alaska was the result of a 1926 competition spearheaded by Alaska’s territorial governor at the time, George Parks, where Alaskan children between grades seven and twelve submitted designs to be judged.
The winning design came from young Benny Benson, thirteen years of age at the time, who lived with his brother Carl, at an orphanage in Seward, Alaska. Known as the Jesse Lee home, it housed hundreds of Aleut orphans and had originally been located at Unalaska before moving to larger premises in Seward.
In addition to seeing his design chosen, the young orphan also received a scholarship to the tune of $1,000 as well as a watch featuring the flag when it was hoisted for the first time on 9 July 1927. Benny’s design is still in use today. The flag features a dark blue background symbolizing Alaska’s night sky with eight stars representing the Big Dipper and the North Star, signifying Alaska’s northerly location.
Native Plants in Alaska
Alaska is home to national forests, national parks and wildlife refuges. With forget-me-not as the official state flower, the “Last Frontier” has a thriving environment for plants, ranging from fireweed to western columbines.
The state is also home to several tree species which vary depending on the prevailing climate of each region. Birch trees (Betula neoalaskana) can be found further into the state with their papery bark, which can be gray, red, white, or yellow.
The interior of the state is also home to white spruce (Picea glauca), and black spruce (Picea mariana) trees. The western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), the largest species of hemlock, capable of growing to impressive heights can also be found in the southern parts of the state. One of the largest conifer species and the world’s largest spruce, the Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) can also be found in southern Alaska.
Discover other interesting facts about native plants in Alaska.
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Alaskan Animals List
- Admiral Butterfly
- Alaskan Klee Kai
- Alaskan Malamute
- Alaskan Pollock
- American Coonhound
- Arctic Char
- Arctic Fox
- Barn Owl
- Beewolf wasp
- Black Widow Spider
- Blackpoll Warbler
- Brown Bear
- Camel Cricket
- Cave Lion
- Crab Spider
- Dung Beetle
- Dungeness Crab
- Emperor Goose
- Eurasian Bullfinch
- Glass Lizard
- Golden Pyrenees
- Grizzly Bear
- Groundhog (Woodchuck)
- Highland Cattle
- Honey Bee
- Hooded Seal
- Kelp Greenling
- Kodiak Bear
- Kokanee Salmon
- Long-Eared Owl
- MacGillivray’s Warbler
- Mountain Lion
- North American Black Bear
- Orb Weaver
- Pike Fish
- Pink Salmon
- Polar Bear
- Polyphemus Moth
- Prairie Rattlesnake
- Rainbow Grasshopper (Dactylotum bicolor)
- River Turtle
- Rufous Hummingbird
- Saber-Toothed Tiger
- Sandhill Crane
- Short-Faced Bear
- Siberian Husky
- Smokybrown Cockroach
- Snow Bunting
- Spadefoot Toad
- Stick Insect
- Swallowtail Butterfly
- Western Tanager
- Wolf Spider
- Wood Bison
- Yellowish Cuckoo Bumblebee (formerly Fernald’s Cuckoo Bumblebee)
Animals in Alaska FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What kinds of animals live in Alaska?
Alaska is full of wild mammals, rodents, birds, bears, moose, and assorted other wildlife. They have many of the common species found elsewhere, such as ducks and beavers, but also many that are only found in or near Alaska, like the willow ptarmigan.
Which animal is only found in Alaska?
There are a few rare creatures that are only native to parts of Alaska. This includes the Islands Wolf, the Aleutian Cackling Goose, Kodiak River Otters, Prince of Wales (POW) Spruce Grouse, and the POW Flying Squirrel. Because of their rarity and rising temperatures due to climate change, all of these creatures could be at risk of going extinct.
What part of Alaska has the most wildlife?
Most of Alaska’s wildlife can be found in its National Parks. This is the best place to view them safely. Of the parks, Denali National Park and Preserve are said to be the best places to see native Alaskan species in the wild.
What dangerous animals are in Alaska?
There are several fierce predators common to Alaska, including wolves, polar, black, and grizzly bears, moose, and wolverines. Of these, moose and grizzlies are the most likely to encounter and attack a human.
Are kangaroos in Alaska?