Norton Sound Subregion


Arctic ground squirrels may be found in alpine tundra wherever soils are well drained, food is available, and digging is easy.

Snowshoe hares are common residents of the high brush community.


Wintering caribou of the Arctic Herd occasionally range into the eastern border of the subregion. Most range suitable for caribou is also used by domestic reindeer (Figure 134).

Grizzly bears occur throughout the subregion except on St. Lawrence Island. Their greatest abundance is where salmon and berries are plentiful, and they tend to concentrate along the Kuzitrin, American, Fish, and Koyuk Rivers. They are common along the coastline, particularly along the north side of the Seward Peninsula.

Moose have become common in the subregion in the past 20 to 30 years. They are widely distributed in spring, summer, and fall, but concentrate along stream valleys in high brush and timber in winter. Winter concentrations occur in the American, Kuzitrin, Koyuk, and other river drainages (Figure 133).

Muskoxen were transplanted in 1970 from Nunivak Island to the Feather River near Nome. These animals moved from the original site and now make use of two widely separated ranges, one covering a large portion of the tip of the Seward Peninsula and the other on the north side of Norton Bay. These animals range widely and occur at scattered locations within the subregion.

Other common species in the subregion are shown on the species lists. Native species that do not occur on St. Lawrence Island include those restricted to forest habitats as well as masked shrew, tundra hare, brown lemming, Alaska vole, wolf, red fox, black bear, grizzly bear, short-tailed weasel, mink, wolverine, and caribou. Several of the mainland species that occur on St. Lawrence Island differ from their mainland counterparts to the extent that taxonomists do not know whether they are separate species or subspecies.

Top: Snowy Owl

Above: Ptarmigan in their winter plumage are a handsome addition in the alpine zone.


alcons nest in low densities (about one per 400 square miles) in the foothills of the Seward Peninsula, and the endangered peregrine falcon also reportedly nests in the subregion. Rough-legged hawks, golden eagles, and snowy and short-eared owls can be found throughout the area, while boreal owls, hawk owls, and goshawks are restricted to forest habitats. Snowy owls appear irregularly at any season of the year. With the exception of the peregrine falcon, these species also occur on St. Lawrence Island.

Water birds and shorebirds occur most abundantly in waters surrounded by wet or moist tundra. Largest habitat areas occur near the lagoons and coastal ponds of the north side of the Seward Peninsula, along the Kuzitrin River, and on St. Lawrence Island.

More than 30 passerine species occur in the subregion in appropriate habitats. Because of the preponderance of tundra, woodland species are not widely distributed.

The following lists indicate the species which are usually prominent in each of the vegetative types that have been shown in Figures 124 and 128. No indication of the importance of interspecies relationships is intended. Each of these habitats may also be inhabited by numerous other small mammals and birds.

Important Animals by Type of Habitat


[Alaska Regional Profiles, Northwest Region, pp. 153-154]

[Alaskool Home]