All About Denali Park | From The Denali Summer Times
Berries & Bears Vegetarians – Almost Grizzly bears, and the smaller black bear, are omnivores. Up to 80 percent of a Denali bear’s diet consists of plant life. In the park, bears eat blueberries, cranberries, crowberries and soapberries as well as roots and grass sprouts. Bears will also eat moose and caribou (especially their calves) as well as ground squirrels. They like human food too, and they hang out at dumps, and will try to open a cooler under a camper. In coastal Alaska, grizzly (or "brown bears" – as coastal bears are commonly called) eat a lot of salmon and grow larger than their Denali cousins. In Denali, the berry crop is very important to help bears put on weight in the fall to make it through the winter. The soapberry, which isn't desirable to humans, is a particularly important berry for bears because of the soapberry's amino acids.
Dog-Like Animals of Denali How to Tell Them Apart You’ll find four types of dog-like animals while in Denali: coyotes, foxes, wolves – and, of course, the park’s kennel full of Alaskan sled dogs. How do you tell one from another? One way is to look at their tails.
A fox will look very small, comparatively. But, its white-tipped tail makes it look long. Foxes are often, but not always, red – with black "stockings" and that jaunty white-tipped tail. Their fur color goes from a yellow-red to a deep red, although some foxes can even be black. A black fox with silver whiskers is called a "silver fox."
A coyote can be easily confused with a wolf. Coyotes are about one third as big as a wolf, but standing alone they'll look large (they're about 30 pounds.) Coyotes are gray or tan, and can be heard in the evening, howling and "yipping." They like to yip and yap more than wolves do. From a distance, one way to tell a coyote from a wolf is the way it carries its tail. The coyote runs with his tail down. Many people are surprised to learn that coyotes are not native to modern Alaska. They arrived here about 100 years ago, at the same time that early American explorers came.
Wolves are really quite large (80 to 115 pounds.) They are very social, and they often travel in groups. Denali is one of the few places in Alaska where you have a reasonable chance of seeing wolves. Unlike a coyote, a wolf’s tail will be straight out behind it when it runs.
Sled Dogs in Alaska can look remarkably similar to either coyotes or wolves. Dog owners have to be careful to keep their pets from being mistaken for wild animals. (Sometimes they tie red or blue bandanas around their dogs' necks.) You can often hear the dogs in a sled dog kennel howling like wolves.
Tracks Wildlife Track Tips Here are some tracks you might see in the summer. Look around ponds and on muddy gravel bars. Caribou tracks can be found on sandy ridges. In spite of the huge physical difference in size between a moose and the much smaller caribou, their tracks look quite similar. Notice, though, how caribou tracks are rounded at the front – compared with moose tracks, which are often larger and straighter. Grizzly tracks are chillingly large, and you can see that the tips of the claws make an arc two to four inches above the bear’s toes.