Denali's Big Five

Moose- Bears-Caribou-Dall Sheep-Wolf

  • Moose-note card photo

Moose:

( a symbol of life in Alaska) Largest member of the deer family. Moose are long legged and heavy bodied w/ a drooping nose, a “bell” or dewlap under the chin, and a small tail. Newborns weigh 28-35 lbs and w/in five months grow over 300 lbs. Males in prime condition weigh 1,000 to 1,600 lbs. Only bulls (males) have antlers, and can stand over 7 feet at the shoulder. Rarely do moose live longer than 16 yrs. A cow (female) moose defends her newborn calf vigorously.

More people hunt moose than any other of Alaska’s big game species. Hunting season is during autumn and winter. Moose outnumber bears nearly three to one in Alaska.

Moose attacks spikes in September and October during mating season and early spring when mothers are protecting their young calves. If you notice their hair raised, head down and ears back or licking it’s lips, that’s your cue to hightail it in the opposite direction. Running in a zig zag formation.

Moose are taller than a horse-heavier than a bear- and faster than a kangaroo- running up to 35 miles per hour. While moose are generally perceived to be less dangerous than bears, more people are actually injured each year in Alaska by moose than bears.

Alaska has the highest rate of moose-vehicle collisions in the world.

There is “white” moose… 1 in 100,000 moose have the albino trait, which is recessive.

Bear:

Alaska is Bear Country. Here in the interior you can find both Black Bears and Brown Bears. Black Bears are 5 feet long, males can range from 150-400 lbs Females from 125-250lbs. Brown to Black in color w/ white patch on front of chest.

North American Brown Bears-also known as the Grizzly Bear 7-9 feet long, males 400-1,100 lbs and Females from 200-600 lbs. Life span up to 30 years w/normal life span being 20-25 yrs. Grizzly bears are more aggressive than Black Bears.

  • Bears -note card photo

Wait a minute... aren't bears supposed to be in hibernation? Could it be an early or late snowfall?

Caribou:

  • Caribou-note card photo

Part of the Raindeer Family.  Both sexes grow antlers but are larger in males.  Reindeer are thought to be the only mammals that can see ultraviolet light.

Caribou have large, concave hoofs that spead widely to support the animal in snow and soft tundra.

Adult bulls average 350-400 pounds.  Mature females average 175-225 pounds.

Bears and Wolfs are their preditors.  Fun Fact: There are more Caribou than people in Alaska.

Dall Sheep:

  • Dall Sheep -note card photo

Dall Sheep inhabit the mountain ranges of Alaska.

These white creatures are most notable for the males' massive curled horns. Females (known as ewes) also carry horns, but theirs are shorter and more slender, and only slightly curved.  Until rams reach the age of 3 years, they tend to resemble the ewes quite a bit. After that, continued horn growth makes the males easily recognizable. Horns grow steadily during the spring, summer, and early fall.  In late fall or winter, horn growth slows and eventually ceases.

Dall rams as old as 16 years have been seen, and ewes have been known to reach 19 years of age.  Generally, however, a 12 year old sheep is considered quite old.

They can grow up to 300 pounds.  Their preditors are wolves, coyotes, and golden eagles.

Wolf:

  • Wolf- note card photo

Also known as the grey wolf or the timber wolf.

Alaska is home to an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 wolves.  Wolves have never been threatened or endangered in Alaska. Until a recent article in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner stated otherwise.

Most adult male wolves in Interior alaska weigh from 85 to 115 pounds, but they occasionally reach 145 pounds.  Females average 10 to 15 pounds lighter than males and rarely weigh more than 110 pounds.  Wolves reach adult size by about 1 year of age.

Fun Fact: There are 12 Species of big game beside the Denali Big Five that include musk oxen, wolverine, mountain goat, black-tailed deer, elk and ram.

* with expressed permission of Peggy Johnson-Photos of note cards sold in our gift shop.  Photography by Johnny Johnson.

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