Wildlife Transplants

Types of Wildlife
Transplanted in Alaska

The following species have been transplanted to, from, or within Alaska at some point in the past.

Big Game

  • Sitka black-tailed deer
  • Mountain goat
  • Elk
  • Bison
  • Muskox
  • Moose
  • Caribou
  • Dall sheep

Furbearers and Small Game

  • Fox
  • Muskrat
  • Beaver
  • Marten
  • Mink
  • Sea otter
  • Raccoon
  • Red squirrel
  • Marmot
  • Ground squirrel
  • Wolf
  • Hare and rabbit
  • European wild hog

Game Birds

  • Pheasant and chukar partridge
  • Canada goose
  • Native game birds
  • Spruce grouse
  • Blue grouse (dusky grouse)
  • Aleutian Canada goose
  • Vancouver Canada goose
  • Ruffed grouse
  • Evermann’s rock ptarmigan

A “wildlife transplant” involves physically moving animals from one place to another. The intent is to introduce, supplement, establish, or reestablish a viable population of the transplanted wildlife species, for a predetermined beneficial purpose. Historically, one such purpose has been to increase harvest opportunity and human food sources. This was the reason for many past wildlife transplants conducted within Alaska.

Introductions of wildlife to new areas may benefit people and it can sometimes also benefit the species. However, great care must be taken to avoid negative impacts to the introduced animals, and to indigenous (native) species and their ecosystems. Attitudes and techniques for conducting wildlife transplants have changed through the years, as wildlife experts learned more about risks associated with transplanting animals.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has adopted a transplant policy that sets strict guidelines for wildlife transplants to, within, or from the state. The objectives of the policy are to contribute to: 1) the conservation of Alaska’s native wildlife and their habitats; 2) the restoration and maintenance of wildlife diversity; 3) the protection of the state’s rich natural heritage; and 4) the enhancement of the wildlife values for the benefit of the people. Activities with higher ecological risk must meet more stringent standards and evaluation criteria, as outlined in the transplant policy.

Proposed transplant activities are evaluated by a transplant review committee -- specialists with expertise in the ecosystem of the transplant site, relationships among and between species and habitats, population dynamics and genetics, and diseases and parasites of potentially affected species. The committee provides 30 days for public review of its by-species feasibility assessment and it holds at least one public hearing each in the vicinity of the proposed transplant and the nearest major regional center.

For more information about game transplants that have occurred in Alaska, see Game Transplants in Alaska (PDF 5,001 kB)