Wildlife is all over the place in Fairbanks right? You'll see moose and bear, caribou and porquipine, fox and raven, bunnies and beavers(and rarely) eagles and wolves in and around Fairbanks Alaska. So who needs special wildlife viewing tips and hints?
Yes, there is a really good chance you'll spot an animal standing by the roadside or roaming in the hotel parking lot. But if you want to know how to see Alaska wildlife in their habitat, these Alaska wildlife viewing tips will help to do that, safely and frequently.
- Consult the Wildlife Guidebooks and Experts
Which animals are you interested in watching? Learn where they hang out, their active time of day, what they like to eat.You'll get your best wildlife viewing tips from the experts who write the books or give the lectures.
Moose love shallow ponds with tasty willows. Beavers prefer slower moving sections of river or lakes. If you see a rabbit hop past, stop and watch. A wolf might follow. Are you high on a bluff? Scan the skies and treetops for raptors and other large birds.
- Get to Where They Live Right on the edges of town, or within a few hours drive are road accessible wildlife habitat areas. Some of these have trail systems that you can hike, ski, cycle, or paddle to get to where the animals live. I've provided a series of pages on www.whyfairbanks.com describing how to get to these trail systems and what they are like. Have fun exploring!
- Bring a Binocular and Camera in your Wildlife Viewing ToolKit.
And learn to use them BEFORE you head out! In fact, click here for a list indispensable items to put in your wildlife viewing tool kit. From basic items like water and extra socks to a compass, duct tape and rain gear, this list is an important page to look at before you head out. There will also soon be an entire page devoted to Wildlife Photography Tips on www.whyfairbanks.com.
- Move slowly, tread softly, stop often, sit quietly, and listen.
Stop at these places ~ or anywhere that “feels” right ~ sit patiently and watch for a while to see what shows. There is no hurry, and nature doesn’t move at any predetermined pace.
- But don't move TOO Quietly!
It's true that you need to move quietly to prevent scaring off wildlife ~ but you sure don’t want to sneak up on a bear! Alaska is bear country. I don't want to scare you ~ but it is a good idea to be cautious and understand that bears can be anywhere in Alaska.
This is especially true in late summer when berries are ripe for the picking ~ and eating ~ on the tundra and along stream beds. Check out our Alaska vacation safety pages to learn more about bear safety.
- Actively involve all your senses.
for the best wildlife viewing. Talk quietly, move gently, sniff the air. Look for tracks, scat, and other animal signs like bits of fur, broken branches or scratches on trees. Listen carefully for moose walking through the bushes (you can’t miss that branch-snapping sound) or feeding loudly in water, or a beaver giving a warning slap of the tail.
- Make Yourself a Bit Invisible.
If you can see, hear, and smell wildlife, they can see, hear, and smell you! So can you smell smell you partner's coconut-scented sun block or the salami in your backpack? So can the wildlife ~ and they’ll turn the other way knowing it’s not a “regular” wilderness scent.
Wearing quieter colors is questionably a good idea. This wildlife viewing tip is one I personally ignore in favor of safety. I want to be seen by hunters. Or by a rescue party if I become lost. It's up to you.
- Roadside Wildlife Viewing Tips.
I've heard the Alcan Highway called the "Longest Zoo In The World!" You won't believe the number of moose, caribou, fox, bear, porcupine, ptarmigine .... that stroll along and across the highway in the Fairbanks area. Use common sense and good driving skills when you see them.
Pull over to the side of the road instead of stopping suddenly in the middle of the road(this is SO exciting! a MOOSE!). And when (or if) you get out of the car, do so verrrry verrrry quietly .... turn off your radio before you open your door .... and close your door gently. oh! don't lock you keys in the car! you might be a long way from a lock smith!
- Wildlife Viewing Tips From the Water
By raft, canoe or kayak (rentals are available at many Fairbanks locations), be sure to pull the paddles, float and observe. Watch for river otter and beaver, as well as the many species of waterfowl common to the area. Eagles are also fond of fish and do “drop in” for an occasional bite. If the water is clear enough, you might spot a salmon or colorful grayling.
- What About Fido?
Fairbanks is a pet friendly place summer and winter! But if you want to watch wildlife, leave your dog at home. Dogs usually keep wildlife at a distance. Worse... in some cases bears or have chased dogs back to their owners! If you must bring your pets, keep them on a leash at all times.
Remember it is their wilderness! Learn about their habitat and try not to interfere. You’ll have better viewing!
When you see wildlife ~ be still and watch ~ let the animal go about its business! That is why you’re watching, right?