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Denali State Park Wildlife

From the alpine tundra of Curry Ridge to the riverine bottoms of the meandering Tokositna River, the park's varied landscape is home to a diverse array of wildlife. Moose, as well as grizzly and black bears, are found throughout the park. Though seldom seen, the wolf frequents much of the park, and caribou occasionally reach the park's northern end. Smaller, elusive residents include lynx, coyote, red fox, snowshoe hare, land otter, and flying and red squirrel. The weasel family is well represented by ermine, marten, mink, and wolverine. Wet areas are habitat for muskrat and beaver, while pika and marmot may be found in rocky areas above timberline. Porcupine will be glad to browse through your food box for salt. Several species of vole and shrew make their minute paths throughout the park.

Wildlife, particularly bears, can be dangerous. Never approach wild animals closely, especially those with young. To avoid surprises, warn animals of your presence by making noise, singing, or carrying bells when in the bush. The tapestry of habitats in the park yields an especially rich bird community. More than 130 species use the park for breeding or during migration. Year-round residents include the ubiquitous common raven, his cousin the grey jay, willow ptarmigan (the state bird), and acrobatic flocks of black-capped and boreal chickadees. However, most birds migrate long distances to frequent the park. The champion marathoner of the bird world, the arctic tern, flies some 12,000 miles to breed in Denali, repeating the journey to winter in the Antarctic. A shorebird, the lesser golden plover, nests on the alpine tundra after wintering in faraway Polynesia. Water birds such as the rare, majestic trumpeter swan, the common loon with its haunting call, and the fish-eating osprey are attracted to the park's myriad lakes and streams. Early on a June morning, the woods and ridges are alive with the ringing of bird song as a host of small birds, like the golden-crowned sparrow, Wilson's warbler, and ruby-crowned kinglet, proclaim their territories.

Fishing Denali's clear streams is a great delight to many park visitors. However, the large rivers are clouded with pulverized rock known as glacial flour and provide poor sport fishing. All five species of Pacific salmon spawn within the waters of the park and share the streams with rainbow trout, arctic graying, and Dolly Varden. Small numbers of lake trout inhabit Byers, Spink, and Lucy Lakes. Burbot and whitefish can also be found in Byers Lake.

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