Saturday, August 07, 2010

Wildlife Along the Alaska Highway

In spite of eagerly obeying a multitude of signs imploring me to “Watch for Wildlife on the Highway” I saw very few wild things along the 1400+ miles of the Alaska Highway. But the lack of wildlife may have been due to my driving habits – starting the day on the road between 7 and 8 am and quitting by 6 pm. Apparently (very) early morning and late evening hours are best for seeing the critters.

A large billboard tells me what the signs mean...

Smaller signs, like this one, dotted the sides of the highway.

The guide book that I've used for the drive to and in Alaska is called “The Milepost” and it provides a mile-by-mile breakdown of what to expect along the various highways - from towns and attractions to highway conditions – and it has been a huge help. It too provided some dire warnings about what wildlife to expect and where it would be.

What little wildlife I did see was on August 3rd (my second day on the Alaska Highway) between Summit Lake and Watson Lake (milepost 373-613). Oh, and that bit about not stopping on the highway? Forget it – everyone was doing it whenever an animal was sighted. Besides, the shoulders were nonexistent in many places and those animals certainly never appeared where there were turnouts!

Stone Sheep at 8:20 am near Summit Lake, exactly where The Milepost said they would be! But there was only one, all alone. It was right along the highway just a few feet from the van.

It posed for me for several minutes and was still standing there as I drove away.

Bear at 10:35 am. On the off-chance that I'd see any wildlife I had gotten my other camera out (it has 15x zoom but takes lower resolution images). Otherwise this fella would have been a small dot in the photo! Berries were its idea of a good meal.

These two bears (taken at 12:58 pm) were some distance away when I saw them and stopped. I was able to get just one photo before they scurried off into the forest.

A small herd of Buffalo at 1:20 pm. Another small herd was several miles further on. It is possible that these are “domesticated” buffalo since several of them appear to be wearing a collar of some kind. Or perhaps it is a tracking device?

That's all folks! That's it. That's all there was!
(Well that's all that I saw...)

Note: This post was written at 11:30 pm Friday night using the available daylight only. There was still an orange tint to the western sky. Even later in the night the sky does not get dark. I haven't seen the stars in the night sky since leaving Montana. Temperature was about 55 degrees with a light breeze. And, this is being posted from the public library in the little town of North Pole, Alaska which is about 15 miles south of Fairbanks.


Michelle Goodrum said...

Great photo of the Stone Sheep. Also, I had no idea there were buffalo that far north! I always thought of them as being in the great plains.

Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

Great photos, Becky! I'm enjoying your trip so much! Thank you for sharing it with us.