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What Animals Can You See In Acadia National Park?

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There’s the crashing waves and the lush old growth North Woods that originally brought you to Acadia National Park. However, it’s the park residents that can add so much to your tour of one of America’s most loved parks.

Acadia National Park is a perfectly diverse habitat in which to support an ample and diverse amount of animals. Whether land, sea or air, Acadia is home to some of the most interesting animals. Take a tour through the park and don’t forget to look around you, because you are being watched as well. So, the question becomes, who is watching you?

Are There Moose In Acadia?

Moose are plentiful in the state of Maine. In fact, the moose population is booming at around 76,000 moose in the state. This makes it second only to Alaska. It’s amazing that in some parts of the state moose outnumber people 3 to 1.

So why don’t you see moose lurking about like the elk of Yellowstone? It is not impossible to see a moose on Mount Desert Island, the largest region of Acadia National Park, but it is exceedingly rare. Because the island is, well, an island, there is only one point of entry for a moose and that is busy Highway 3 that enters the island. There are over 4,000,000 visitors to the park per year. That is a lot of cars on the highway and moose are quiet solitary animals who don’t like to be seen.

Moose also like the forests and interior of the state as there are many low-lying marshes for them to graze and hide. If you go to the western part of the state in the lakes and mountains, you are most likely to see many moose here.

If you do see a moose in the park, chances are it may be suffering from a condition called Brainworm. This is a central nervous system condition that probably caused them to enter the island in the first place. They may wander in circles in a disoriented state so they may not even know where they are. So sad, but true.

If you are in the Bar Harbor area you can take a day tour to the northwest region of the state and see this magnificent beast. Your best bet for catching them in action will be from mid-May through July in the dawn and dusk hours and then again in the fall during mating season.

What Animals Can You See In Acadia National Park?
Moose lounging in the grass

Are There Grizzly Bears In Acadia?

There are no grizzly bears in Acadia. Furthermore, there are no grizzlies in Maine at all. Grizzlies were originally found just west of the Mississippi River, extending from Cananda to Mexico.However, westward expansion in the late 18th century reduced their numbers. Now they are only found in a handful of states in the west and in Canada. But, Maine is a state too far east and has never been the home of grizzly bears.

Are There Snakes In Acadia?

There have only been seven reptiles discovered in Acadia National Park. Five of those species are of the slithering variety. However, you unlike many national parks, Acadia’s snakes are not venomous.

You will find garter, green, redbelly, ringneck and eastern milksnakes. The Eastern Milksnake is the most interesting snake on the island and if you come upon one you will swear that it’s a rattlesnake. This snake is very crafty and will tap its tail in gravel or leaves to trick its adversary into thinking it is a venomous snake. This would definitely fool me and I would run for the hills.

Are There Otters In Acadia?

There are no sea otters in Acadia, but you will find river otters in the marshy areas, lakes and coastal zones of the park. Surprisingly, otters are the top predator in the park. This is good news for a lone hiker in the woods, but not so good news for mussels or crabs.

Scientists are closely studying the habits and habitats of otters in the park in hopes that it will indicate the health of the ecosystem of the region. If otters seem to be doing well over an extended period of time, this is an indicator that other species are also faring well. Under the increasing stress of global warming, this is important information for scientist to predict the future for all inhabitants in the park.

While exploring, take note of any beaver lodges you may come upon as this is a favorite hideout for otters. They are elusive and don’t like to be in the spotlight, so it may be tough to spot one. However, if you do see one, you may catch it floating on its back in a lake or sliding down a smooth rock on the coast. They are so fun to watch!

What Animals Can You See In Acadia National Park?
Otters having a swim

Are There Mountain Lions In Acadia?

If you like to hike, you will be happy to know that Mountain Lions no longer take residence inside the park. However, before the 20th century, mountain lions did live in the region.

It’s believed that the reduction of their small prey such as turkey and rabbit contributed to the elimination as well as the increased human activity.

The official word from the Maine Department of Wildlife is that there are no known mountain lion populations in Maine. However, the general population has more recently been reporting sighting in various locations in Maine. It is possible that in the future, a sighting within the park could become a reality.

Are There Dolphins In Acadia?

If you are hiking the coast of the park looking for dolphin or porpoise pods, you are unlikely to see any. You must go out farther to ensure that you see these beautiful creatures.

Chartering a boat or taking a whale watching tour is your best bet for spotting these intriguing mammals. Look for schools or pods near harbors or out in open waters. They are a curious animal and will most likely want to come closer to the boat.

Are There Bald Eagles In Acadia?

Unlike other animals that travel on foot and must get to the island by land, birds have the freedom to fly and make a home wherever they choose. The explosion of the bald eagle population since the 1970’s has been nothing short of astonishing. They are so plentiful that 49 states, save Hawaii all are now home to this magnificent bird.

You can see bald eagles everywhere in Acadia. However, you will see a concentration of them on Cadillac Mountain. You can see them anytime of year perching in branches or flying high above a fresh carrion kill. In winter, they are easier to spot without the leaves of the trees. Keep your eyes peeled for the eye-catching white head and tail and capture a keepsake photo of these American icons.

Bald Eagles in Winter

Are There Black Bears In Acadia?

You won’t find grizzly bears in Acadia, but what you might find on a rare occasion would be a black bear. However, a black bear sighting is almost as scarce as a moose sighting in the park.

There are many factors that contribute to this. Although there is an ample supply of food in the park, black bears need a territory of at least 6-9 square miles in order to live a thriving life. At this rate, Mount Desert Island can only support about four female bears. In addition to this, the busy activity of the park is not conducive to the reclusive habits of a black bear. They prefer to live solitary lives without the threat of humans and their dogs. Since Acadia is such a dog friendly park, this further hinders the probability of seeing this king of the forest.

Are there whales in Acadia?

Let’s be real for a minute. This impressive animal is one of the reasons you booked your trip. Luckily, just off the coast of Acadia, you can see a plethora of whales of all sorts of species.

If you’re gazing off the cliffs of the park, keep your eye fixed for the blowhole or breach of a Humpback or North Atlantic whale, as these can be seen from shore. It’s not uncommon to see huge splashes from the Humpback as it playfully leaps into the air.

If you want to see a Finback or a Minke Whale, a whale watching tour would be a good activity. The Finback is the largest in the Atlantic and travels in pods so it’s not difficult to spot. The Minke Whale is friendly and likes to surround boats and show off their hospitality by giving you a superb photo opportunity.

Breeching humpback whale

Rest and relaxation is probably first and foremost on your Acadia vacation. But, when you are out and and about, keep your eyes open and your ears keen for the tell-tale signs of the wildlife of the park. Seeing these creatures will enrich your time at Acadia and add to your vacation’s best memories.

Wendy Edwards
Wendy is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. But for the past seven years she has traveled by RV to many National Parks, monuments and everywhere in between. She and her family of five, a furry canine friend and a bearded dragon have crossed the United States thirty one times. She never tires of hiking, biking, camping and photographing this beautiful country.