Mammals

Mammals

Nowitna Refuge is home to nearly 40 mammal species -- from the 1,200 pound bull moose to the Alaska shrew weighing less than an ounce.

Moose calves, born in late May, feed on wetland plants and the new growth of summer. Calves follow their mothers for almost a year, surviving on willow branches and bark in winter. Far less common are the caribou that graze in upland woodlands and alpine areas.

Black and grizzly bears constantly roam in search of food, preying on moose or smaller animals as well as eating roots, berries and fish. In the evening stillness, the haunting howls of wolves breaks the natural silence.

Lynx prowl the spruce forests, hunting snowshoe hares. Other furbearers at home in these forests include pine marten, fox, weasels, and elusive wolverines. Marten hunt in the trees for squirrels and on the ground for voles, lemmings, insects, and berries.

Large animals are well known, but it's the small animals that provide the fuel to keep the ecosystem running. Their combined weight exceeds that of all of the refuge's large animals, including those whose survival depends on them. The northern red-backed vole is probably the most abundant mammal on the refuge. Its larger cousin, the yellow-cheeked vole, is common in areas of recent wildfire.

View Mammal Species List