Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Black Bear

I gave you a little teaser yesterday with the close up photo of a grizzly bear.  No, we didn't encounter the bear on a hike in the woods.   The bear was one of several at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

One the Seward Highway between Portage and Girdwood we found the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.    AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals and provides spacious enclosures and care. Animals that cannot be released into the wild are given a permanent home at the center.  Others are released back into the wild.

We visited the center by walking around and watching the bears, bison, caribou, fox, and porcupine.   It was the first porcupine either of us had seen and I can't say that we saw much of him.   He was mostly sleeping and poked his head out once to look around.

We arrived just in time to catch the end of the bear feeding.   The center has built a high boardwalk above the bear habitat and the bears were out for dinner.   There were several grizzlies on one side and black bears on the other.  We didn't get to see bears close up in the wild so this was the next best thing.

Gotta Love That Face
Prior to the 20th century, Wood Bison inhabited Alaska and northwestern Canada for thousands of years. They disappeared from the state within the past 200 years, likely from a change in habitat distribution and effects of unregulated hunting. They were declared extinct in 1941 but a small herd was discovered in Canada in 1957.   The AWCC has maintained and grown a heard  since 2003.  In July of this year they released the latest of 130 Wood Bison back into the wilds of Alaska in and effort to restore the herds.  Most are wearing radio collars so they can be tracked and monitored.
Wood Bison

One of the more animated animals there was a Red Fox.   He was curious and seemed to want to know what we were up to. He was constantly moving around but would stop and look at us, giving me a great opportunity for a portrait shot.

Red Fox

Although we had seen several Moose on our first day in Denali, we enjoyed watching this big guy.    
Bull Moose
They also had a few birds of prey in one area.   Adonis arrived at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in 1995 after being shot.  His left wing required a full amputation as a result. Even though it is illegal to harm an eagle under the Bald Eagle Protection Act, an estimated 2,000 – 3,000 eagles are shot or injured in the United States each year. Since Adonis cannot fly, he has found a permanent home  at the AWCC.
If you are traveling between Anchorage and Seward be sure to stop off for a couple hours and visit the center.   It's a great way to experience Alaska's wildlife up close.  They are a non-profit so you might want to consider a donation as well.

What are we up to tomorrow?   Here's a hint.  
Your Chariot Awaits

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