Species at Ward Lake

adult bald eagle

Visitors can see a diversity of Alaskan wildlife in the Yakutat area. View this page to learn more about the mammals, and birds that inhabit this area.



Mammals can best be viewed in the early morning or late evening at Ward Lake. These twilight hours provide the greatest chance of catching a glimpse of these forest animals. Remember, all wildlife is WILD! Never approach wild animals and use "bear sense" when travelling southeast Alaska.

sitka black-tailed deer

Sitka Black-tailed Deer

Did you know that deer are some of the noisiest animals in Alaska's coastal rain forests? Sitka black-tailed deer are very vocal animals, though it's unlikely anyone will rush to remake the Bambi soundtrack based on this news. Their repertoire of sounds resembles that of sheep, complete with bleating, baaing, and grunting. Researchers have identified at least twelve different signals that Sitka black-tailed deer use. Deer are social animals and often move in herds dominated by an older female. The species inhabits the Pacific coast from central California to Prince William Sound and Kodiak. Their fur is well adapted to the rainy climate of the coast. Fawns are born in early June and weigh 6 to 8 pounds; they stand about 12 inches tall. The Bambi look--the spotted coat--is short-lived. By the end of the summer juvenile deer have turned brownish-gray like their parents.

sitka black-tailed deer

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Beaver (Castor canadensis)

Beavers are master builders - collecting willow and alder branches to create dams and lodges. Look for the distinctive dome-shaped lodges and standing pools of water that indicate a beaver has been at work.


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black bear - W. Shuster

Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

Black bears are commonly seen in Mendenhall Valley. They often concentrate their activities around Steep Creek during the salmon spawning season. Although they are the smallest of North America's three bears, please remember that they are dangerous! Never approach a bear and use good bear sense.


The hiking trails of the Ward Lake area offer good birdwatching opportunities. Look for these forest birds along your hikes.

  • kinglets
  • chickadees
  • thrushes
  • winter wrens
  • Townsend's warblers
  • red-breasted sapsuckers

During spring and fall migration watch for swans, and other waterfowl on Ward Lake.

Adult trumpeter swan

Trumpeter Swan(Olor buccinator)

During spring and fall migration, observant visitors may spot the majestic trumpeter swan resting on Ward Lake.

The largest of waterfowl, trumpeter swans may weigh up to 40 pounds, and may have a wingspan up to 8 feet!

Go to the Trumpeter swan page to view more pictures of swans and learn more about this majestic bird.

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Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Our nation's symbol, the bald eagle is common on southeast Alaska. In fact, there are more bald eagles in Alaska than in all the other states combined! With their white head and 6.5 - 8 foot wingspan, bald eagles are unmistakeable. This majestic bird can be seen throughout the year along riverways and in forests in southeast Alaska.

Adult bald eagle