New York’s Central Park is a strip of public land surrounded by mountains of private buildings. Gustavus is a patch of private property surrounded by mountains of public land. Gustavus is surrounded on three sides by the 3.3 million acres of Glacier Bay National Park. Within Gustavus an additional 4,000 acres were recently purchased by the Nature Conservancy to protect wetland habitat. Along there are no established trails the Conservancy lands are open to visitors for hiking and biking. There are ample opportunities to see moose and bear. The extensive mudflats and wetlands attract an abundance of migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, and sandhill cranes. The Nature Conservancy lands include almost the entire beach front making Gustavus one of the few communities in the country with a beach front open to people, bears, and moose alike.
The community of Gustavus rests on the broad, flat expanse of the Gustavus forelands, the largest flat plain in Southeast Alaska. Each winter, as the snow pack grows, moose concentrate on the flats to browse on willow and other low-lying plants. Moose are a relatively new member of the Gustavus community, with the first few colonizers arriving in the mid 1960s. By the 1990s they were common, and the Gustavus forelands now has one of the highest densities of moose in Alaska. Common winter birds include chestnut-backed chickadees, golden-crowned kinglets, pine siskins and white-winged crossbills. Horned grebes, red-breasted mergansers, common loons and all three scoter species are often seen in the waters off Gustavus. Moose may be seen during the summer as well, but densities are much higher during the winter.
Look for moose sign like tracks and chewed branches to know that moose are in the area.
There is moose hunting in Gustavus in September. In early June, moose are calving and can be very aggressive when surprised or threatened. Stay very far away!
Content courtesy of ADF&G – Division of Wildlife Conservation