Porcupines, and Moose, and Bears, Oh My!


A moose spotted within a beautiful Alaskan backdrop

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Tonight was a page out of a Gary Paulsen book.  While out on an evening drive with a few other teachers we spotted a porcupine, a moose, and a BEAR!  Living in Chicago these are not animals I see every day, so I was quite energized to see all three in one night.  The moose and porcupine were spotted within seconds of one another, and I jumped with excitement because those are two animals the character Brian encounters in Paulsen’s novel Hatchet, which my students read each fall.

Then, as we were getting ready to head back into Wasilla, a furry creature made its’ way in front of our car.  It took us a moment to get the words out, but we all screamed, “BEAR!” at the same time.  As the bear cleared the road and we drove past where we saw him, we saw a trash can on the ground with garbage everywhere.  It was clear that the bear was looking for some dinner.


The black bear crossing the road

After the excitement died down, I continued to think about these three animals and how they can all affect mushers and their dogs.  Here are some discussion questions you can use with students to get them thinking about animals on the trail and in training.

How can a musher protect the dogs in their kennel from animals such as bears or moose?

How do you think a sled dog would react to encountering a moose along the Iditarod trail?

Why is it important for mushers and dogs to keep a safe distance from these animals?

Students can also research these animals to discover more information about their habitat, eating habits, and lifespan.


Beautiful Alaska!