Alaska is home to some of the most spectacular wildlife on earth, and it’s even more captivating in winter. With snow-capped peaks, frozen lakes, and an abundance of animals, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. In this article, we’ll take you on a tour of 13 animals you can expect to see in Alaska during the winter months! So get ready to explore the stunning beauty and wildlife of Alaska with us!
Alaska in the winter is a land of extremes. The days are shorter, the weather is colder, and the landscape is blanketed in snow. But despite the challenges, winter in Alaska is also a time of great beauty. The aurora borealis dances across the sky, animals adapt to the cold, and life goes on.
One of the best things about winter in Alaska is the opportunity to see some amazing wildlife. From bears to moose to eagles, there are many different animals that call Alaska home. And while some of them hibernate or migrate during the winter months, others are out and about enjoying the snow.
Here are just a few of the animals you might see during a winter visit to Alaska:
Moose are the largest member of the deer family and can be found throughout Alaska. They are most active in the morning and evening but can be seen at any time of day. Moose are generally calm but can be aggressive if provoked.
They have long legs and a large humped back, as well as long noses and antlers. Moose are brown in color with a lighter belly and can weigh up to 1,500 pounds. They primarily feed on vegetation, including leaves, twigs, bark, aquatic plants, and grasses.
In addition to their diet, moose are known to be good swimmers and can stay submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. They are also excellent jumpers, capable of leaping over obstacles up to 8 feet high. Moose have poor eyesight but keen senses of smell and hearing.
Arctic foxes are one of the most commonly seen animals in Alaska during the winter months. These small, fluffy predators are well-adapted to life in the cold, with thick fur coats that keep them warm even in temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arctic foxes typically hunt alone or in pairs, and their diet consists mainly of small rodents like lemmings and voles. They will also eat carrion, berries, and other fruits when available. These clever little predators are known to follow polar bears and other larger predators in order to scavenge their kills.
Aside from their diet, Arctic foxes also have some unique behaviors. They are known to create dens in the snow or on the ground, where they can hibernate during extremely cold weather.
They will also use their fur to store food and carry it back to the den, giving them a great advantage when times are lean. The Arctic fox is a beautiful, intelligent animal that plays an important role in the ecosystem of Alaska’s northern regions.
These regal birds are native to the Arctic tundra and make their way south to Alaska during the winter months in search of food. They are easily recognizable with their white plumage and striking yellow eyes.
Snowy owls are also one of the largest owl species, with some males weighing in at over five pounds!
If you’re lucky enough to spot a snowy owl while you’re in Alaska, be sure to take some time to enjoy the experience. These magnificent creatures are truly a sight to behold!
Snowy owls feed mostly on lemmings during the winter months, and you may be able to spot them perched atop a snowbank or low-lying tree in search of their prey. They have excellent eyesight and can often be seen scanning the landscape far and wide for food.
Reindeer are one of the most iconic animals associated with Alaska. These beautiful creatures can be found throughout the state, and are especially prevalent in the northern regions.
Reindeer are well-adapted to cold climates, and their thick fur keep them warm even in the harshest conditions. If you’re lucky enough to see a reindeer in the wild, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.
Reindeer are herbivores and eat mostly grasses, lichens, mosses, and sedges. They also feed on twigs, bark and even berries in the summer months. Reindeer are well-known for their incredible migratory abilities; herds can travel up to 48 miles in a single day!
In addition to being a large part of Alaskan wildlife, reindeer are also deeply embedded into the culture of many Native tribes throughout the state. Historically, reindeer were used for food and clothing as well as transportation during long winter months. Even today, some Alaskans still rely on reindeer as a source of sustenance and livelihood.
Wolves are a common sight in Alaska during the winter months. These majestic creatures are often seen traveling in packs across the state.
While they may seem intimidating, wolves are actually very shy animals and will usually avoid contact with humans. If you’re lucky enough to see a wolf in the wild, be sure to admire it from a distance!
Wolves are also important to the ecosystem in Alaska. They help to keep the population of large herbivores, like deer and elk, in check, which prevents overgrazing of vegetation.
Wolves also provide a food source for other predators like bears, lynx, and wolverines. By keeping the populations of different species balanced, wolves play an important role in maintaining the health and diversity of Alaskan wildlife.
Wolverines are ferocious predators and are actually quite rare, but there is a good chance of seeing one if you know where to look. Wolverines can be found in the tundra and forested areas of Alaska. They are most active in the winter months when they are searching for food.
Wolverines are stocky mammals, with males weighing up to 30 pounds and females around 20 pounds. They have thick fur that is reddish-brown in color, with white patches on the face, chest, and legs.
Wolverines have strong claws and powerful jaws which allow them to dig and climb with ease. These animals are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. They mostly feed on small rodents and hares, but will also scavenge carrion.
The wolverine has been a symbol of strength in many cultures throughout history. In Alaska, Native American tribes have often used the animal as a source of inspiration for their art and stories.
Wolverines also play important roles in the region’s ecology by helping to keep populations of smaller mammals like mice in check.
The red fox is the largest member of the true foxes, and one of the most widely distributed members of the canid family. The red fox has a relatively long head, with a pointed muzzle and large, pointy ears.
Its coat is usually reddish-brown in color, with a white chest and belly. The red fox is an omnivore, and its diet consists of small mammals, fruits, vegetables, and even insects.
In the wintertime, the red fox’s coat becomes thicker and more lustrous, providing insulation against the cold weather.
Bald eagles are one of the most popular birds in Alaska. They can be seen throughout the state, but are especially common near bodies of water. Bald eagles typically eat fish, but they will also eat small mammals and birds.
Bald eagles are large birds, with a wingspan of up to eight feet. They are identified by their white head and tail feathers, which contrast sharply with the dark brown body feathers. The beak is yellow and has a hooked tip for grabbing prey.
Bald eagles are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in the United States. It is illegal to hunt bald eagles or disturb their nests without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Harbor seals are very curious and love to approach humans, so don’t be surprised if one pops up next to you while you’re out on a walk! They can be found basking on ice floes or swimming in the frigid waters of the ocean.
Harbor seals have a thick waterproof coat of fur that helps them stay warm in cold water. They use their whiskers to feel for prey and use their webbed flippers to swim gracefully underwater. Harbor seals are also able to hold their breath for up to an hour underwater!
These marine mammals can be found living along the coasts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans as well as in parts of the Mediterranean sea. They feed mainly on fish, mollusks, crabs, and other invertebrates. Harbor seals give birth to one pup each year after a 3-4 month gestation period.
Dall sheep are a species of Arctic wild sheep. They are native to the mountainous regions of western North America, from Alaska to the Rocky Mountains. The Dall sheep is named after William Dall, an American naturalist who first described the animal in 1873.
Dall sheep are well-adapted to their cold, harsh environment. They have thick, white wool coats that keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Their hooves are split into two toes, which helps them grip the icy rocks they live on. Dall sheep are also excellent climbers and can scale cliffs and mountainsides with ease.
Herds of Dall sheep are often seen grazing on alpine meadows and tundra. They primarily eat grasses and sedges, but will also eat lichens, mosses, and shrubs if necessary. In the winter, when food is scarce, Dall sheep may dig through snow to find buried vegetation.
Dall sheep are hunted for their meat and horns. Their horns are highly prized by hunters and are often used to make knives, jewelry, and other decorative items.
When most people think of Alaska, they picture polar bears, reindeer, and maybe even a moose or two. But did you know that Alaska is also home to some of the world’s most adorable animals? Sea lions are just one of the many fascinating creatures you can find in the Last Frontier.
There are two types of sea lions that inhabit Alaska: Steller sea lions and California sea lions. Steller sea lions are the largest of the two, with males reaching up to 11 feet long and weighing up to 2,500 pounds!
California sea lions are much smaller, with males only reaching about 7 feet long and 1,000 pounds. Despite their size difference, both types of sea lions are equally as playful and fun to watch.
One of the best places to see sea lions in Alaska is at Kachemak Bay State Park. Every year from June through August, hundreds of Steller sea lions haul out on the beach at Halibut Cove Lagoon to bask in the sun and rest. This is an incredible sight to see, and one that you won’t soon forget!
Whether you’re looking for a big adventure or small teddy-bear-like creatures, Alaska has it all. Be sure to add seeing some amazing wildlife to your list when planning your trip to the Last Frontier!
Mountain goats are one of the most popular animals to see in Alaska during the winter. They are known for their thick fur coats and their ability to climb steep cliffs. Mountain goats are usually found in the mountains, but they can also be found in the forests and tundra.
Mountain goats are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants. Their diet consists mainly of grasses, lichens, mosses and leaves. They use their hooves to dig in the snow for food and can survive in temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mountain goats are incredibly sure-footed, able to traverse steep cliffs with ease. While generally not dangerous to humans, it’s important to keep your distance if you encounter one in the wild as they have been known to charge when startled or threatened.
Ovibos is a genus of muskoxen, animals with long shaggy coats and large horns. There are two species of Ovibos: the musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) and the takin (Ovibos himalayanus). Both species are native to Asia, but the musk ox has been introduced to Alaska.
The musk ox is the largest member of the family Bovidae, weighing up to 1,200 pounds (540 kilograms). It has a thick coat of fur that helps it survive in cold climates. The musk ox is an herbivore and feeds on grasses and other plants.
The takin is a smaller animal, weighing up to 660 pounds (300 kilograms). It lives in mountainous areas of Asia and feeds on bamboo shoots.
Both species of Ovibos are social animals and live in herds. The musk ox herds can number in the hundreds, while the takin herds are smaller, typically consisting of 10-15 animals.
Also Read: February Frenzy: 10 Must-See Wildlife Wonders Across America
Where to See These Animals in Alaska?
Alaska is home to some of the most majestic animals in the world. While you can see many of them in zoos and wildlife sanctuaries across the state, there’s nothing quite like seeing them in their natural habitat.
Here are some of the best places to see Alaska’s wildlife:
Denali National Park: Denali is one of the best places in Alaska to see grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, and wolves. There are also many opportunities to see birds, including ptarmigans, eagles, and owls.
Kenai Fjords National Park: This park is known for its whales, seals, otters, and penguins. You can also see bears, eagles, and other land animals.
Katmai National Park: Katmai is home to brown bears, which can often be seen fishing for salmon in the rivers. Other animals that call this park home include caribou, moose, wolves, and wolverines.
Glacier Bay National Park: Here, you can observe many of Alaska’s marine mammals, including humpback whales, sea lions, and porpoises.
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve: This preserve is home to musk oxen, Arctic foxes, and caribou. You may even spot a polar bear!
No matter where you explore in Alaska, you are sure to see some amazing wildlife. Just remember to always respect the animals and keep your distance.
Tips for Wildlife Watching during Winter Months
When winter arrives in Alaska, many animals begin to prepare for the long months ahead. Some animals will migrate to warmer climates, while others will hunker down and hibernate.
This can make wildlife watching during the winter months a bit more challenging, but there are still plenty of opportunities to see some amazing animals. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your winter wildlife watching:
1. Look for signs of animal activity. Even if you don’t see any animals, you can often find evidence of their presence. Look for tracks in the snow, browse marks on trees, or listen for sounds of movement in the woods.
2. Get out early in the morning or late in the evening. Many animals are more active at dawn and dusk, so this is a great time to catch them out and about.
3. Dress for the weather. Make sure you are prepared for cold weather by dressing in layers and bringing along warm food and drinks.
4. Be patient and observant. Wildlife watching takes patience and sometimes you may have to wait a long time before you see anything. But when you finally spot an animal, take your time to enjoy the experience and really observe everything about it.
5. Check out local wildlife refuges and other protected areas. These areas are often great places to watch wildlife, as they offer safety and shelter for animals during the winter months.
By following these tips and using your patience and observation skills, you can have a successful winter wildlife-watching experience in Alaska!
Alaska in the winter is a beautiful sight to behold. From the majestic bald eagle soaring overhead to the playful Arctic fox darting through snow, Alaska is home to some of nature’s most interesting creatures.
By understanding their behavior and habitat, you can maximize your chances of spotting these amazing animals on your next winter outing in Alaska. So bundle up, grab your binoculars, and get ready for an unforgettable experience!