Mammal List

caribou cow bar

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is located in the northeast corner of Alaska. In this region of extensive cold, much of the Refuge's soils are underlain with permafrost.

The Beaufort Sea washes against the north coast of the Refuge. These waters remain ice-covered for eight or more months each year. The ice pack is the winter home for polar bear and numerous seals. During the summer, whales migrate through these waters.

South of the coast lies a broad expanse of flat arctic tundra composed mostly of sedges and low shrubs. Musk oxen live year-round on this coastal plain, and caribou produce their calves here in late spring.

The arctic tundra rises to the south through foothills to the rugged, rocky mountains of the Brooks Range. Dall sheep search for winter forage along windblown slopes, while marmots hibernate within stony crevices for nine months each year.

Further south, mountains gradually merge into the spruce and shrubs of the boreal forest. Beaver, mink, and moose, as well as numerous small rodents, inhabit the wet meadows, bogs, and rivers within this forested region.

(Scientific names follow "The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals," 1999, edited by D.E. Wilson and S. Ruff. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.)


____ Masked Shrew (Sorex cinereus) Wet areas and forests.
____ Dusky Shrew (Sorex monticolus) Wet meadows and forests south of the mountains.
____ Pygmy Shrew (Sorex hoyi) Forests and open areas south of the mountains.
____ Tundra Shrew (Sorex tundrensis) Wet tundra and forests.
____ Barren Ground Shrew (Sorex ugyunak) Wet tundra and forests.
____ Holarctic Least Shrew (Sorex minutissimus) Wet areas, tundra, shrublands and forests.

LAGOMORPHS (hares and rabbits)

____ Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus) Forests and shrub thickets.

RODENTS (squirrels, voles, lemmings, etc.)

____ Alaska Marmot (Marmota broweri) Rocky, mountainous areas.
____ Arctic Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus parryii) well-drained areas.
____ Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) Forests.
____ Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) Ponds and marshes south of the mountains.
____ Beaver (Castor canadensis) Lakes and rivers south of the mountains.
____ Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) Meadows and open forests south of the mountains.
____ Tundra Vole (Microtus oeconomus) Meadows near water.
____ Yellow-cheeked Vole (Microtus xanthognathus) Forests and wet areas.
____ Singing Vole (Microtus miurus) Well-drained tundra and shrub thickets near water.
____ Northern Red-backed Vole (Myodes rutilus) Tundra and forests.
____ Brown Lemming (Lemmus sibiricus (trimucronatus)) Well-drained raised areas in wet-sedge tundra.
____ Northern Bog Lemming (Synaptomys borealis) Wet areas, forests, and meadows south of the mountains.
____ Collared Lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) Sedge tundra.
____ Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) Forests and shrub thickets.

CANIDS (foxes and wolves)

____ Coyote (Canis latrans) Rare in open areas.
____ Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) All areas.
____ Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) Tundra north of the mountains.
____ Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) All areas.

FELIDS (cats)

____ Lynx (Lynx canadensis) Forests.

URSIDS (bears)

____ Black Bear (Ursus americanus) Forests.
____ Brown/Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) Valleys, plateaus, and open areas.
____ Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) Along the coast and on ocean ice.

MUSTELIDS (weasels)

____ Marten (Martes americana) Forests.
____ Ermine (Mustela erminea) Open forests and tundra.
____ Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) Open, wet areas.
____ Mink (Mustela vison) Wet areas south of the mountains.
____ Wolverine (Gulo gulo) Forests and tundra.
____ River Otter (Lontra canadensis) Rivers and lakes mainly south of the mountains.

CERVIDS (deer)

____ Moose (Alces alces) Forests, shrub thickets, and wet areas.
____ Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) All areas.

BOVIDS (goats and sheep)

____ Muskox (Ovibos moschatus) Tundra north of the mountains.
____ Dall Sheep (Ovis dalli) Rocky slopes and meadows in the mountains.

PINNIPEDS (seals and walrus)

____ Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) Rare along the coast.
____ Spotted Seal (Phoca largha) Coastal waters and on ocean ice.
____ Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida) Ocean ice along the coast.
____ Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus) Coastal waters and on ocean ice.

CETACEANS (whales)

____ Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas) Coastal waters.
____ Gray Whale (Eschrichtius robustus) Rare in coastal waters.
____ Bowhead Whale (Balaena mysticetus) Coastal waters.

[Mammal list updated May 2017.]