|Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center|
|Ort||Girdwood, Alaska, USA|
View from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center through the Portage Valley to Bard Peak
That Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a zoo-like wildlife sanctuary located near Girdwood, Alaska, USA. It is run as a non-profit organization and specializes in keeping domestic animals.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is located approximately 40 miles northwest of the city of Anchorage and is part of the borough of the same name. The eastern border forms the Turnagain Arm, a waterway in Cook Inlet. In the west, the reservation is affected by the Seward Highway. It is at the beginning of Portage Valley. Behind the Kenai Mountains extend with the 1173 meter high Bard Peak and the Chugach Mountains.
Under the name of Big Game Alaska Mike Miller, a nature-loving private individual, founded a wildlife sanctuary near Girdwood in 1993 with some bison and elk. In 2000 this received the nonprofit status. In 2007 the name of Big Game Alaska in The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center changed. It is dedicated to the conservation of Alaska’s wildlife through breeding, education, research and mentoring. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center serves as a sanctuary, taking in, caring for and providing a new permanent habitat to orphaned and injured animals year-round. The 200-acre site allows the animals to live in their species-appropriate environment, exhibit their natural wildlife behaviors, and serve as educational ambassadors for their species to visitors. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is also in partnership with the US Forest Service and has leased an additional 45 hectares dedicated specifically to wood bison.
The reintroduction and conservation of the wood bison (Bos bison athabascae) in Alaska and other areas of the United States are a primary concern of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. In cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF & G) this project is being pursued. In 2005 a memorandum of understanding was signed between the AWCC and ADF&G giving the AWCC leadership of the wood bison project and starting with a small group of genetically pure animals. Bison breeding was successful and in 2015 130 animals were released into the wild.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center keeps animal species that are almost exclusively found in Alaska, including the following mammal species: Grizzly bear (Ursus), American black bear (American bear), Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis), Mackenzie-Wolf (Western wolf dog), Kojote (A barking dog), Rotfuchs (Foxes), Waldbison (Bos bison athabascae), North American tree spine (Erethizon dorsatum), Alaska-Elch (elk moose gigas), Roosevelt-Wapiti (Roosevelt’s Canadian deer), Barrenground-Close (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus), Sitka-Schwarzwedelhirsch (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis), muskox (Ovibos moschatus), as well as red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudson). Bird species at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center include bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and great horned owl (Virginian owl).
To observe the animals it is possible for visitors to explore the site on foot, by bicycle or by car. Guided tours are also available throughout the year. It is possible to feed selected animals under the supervision of the rangers. Alternatively, virtual tours are offered. In addition, educational programs and science instruction are available to all visitors free of charge.
The following series of images shows some animals from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center’s 2019 inventory. The antlers of the deer species are in the growing phase and are still covered with raffia:
- Information from Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center website, accessed 1 January 2023