171-Animals – Alaska

Muskox are the only mammal that resides above the Arctic Circle that does not hibernate. Their coat is so think they can survive the harsh winters at 160 below zero. During the summer, muskoxen live in wet areas, such as river valleys, moving to higher elevations in the winter to avoid deep snow. They graze on grasses, reeds, sedges, and other ground plants, digging through snow in the winter to reach their food. Muskox wool, or qiviut (an Inuit word), is highly prized for its softness, length, and insulative value. Prices for yarn ranges between $50 an $100 per ounce. Several shops in Anchorage sell clothes made from this yarn. It feels wonderful and is very expensive. They were once hunted to extinction just like the buffalo. Breeding efforts have brought their stocks back to safe levels. These muskox were seen at the Large Animal Experimental Farm at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The caribou can be found by the thousands through the northern territories. They are hunted by the locals and it is reported that caribou meet is some of the best tasting in the world. I will let you know. The reindeer is the domesticated version of the caribou. The reindeer have shorter legs (since they don’t have to migrate thousands of miles) and are fatter (more meat to eat). They grow a new set of antlers each year and use them for fighting with each other and protection.

animals3Muskox territory. Blue is new territory, red is established areas.

animals2Ready to deliver the presents for Santa.

animals1Muskox coming down for a snack. The horns can kill a wolf or bear.