History of the AWCC

Over 20 Years of Preservation, Conservation and Education

In 1993, Mike Miller founded Big Game Alaska with just a modest herd of plains bison and Rocky Mountain elk. Since then, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) has transformed over the last 30 years gaining 501(c) 3 nonprofit status in 2000. In 2007, the name was changed from Big Game Alaska to The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Today the AWCC is Southcentral Alaska’s #1 visitor attraction.

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is located in Portage Valley and is surrounded by the breathtaking Chugach Mountain Range and Turnagain Arm Inlet. Located at Mile 79 of the Seward Highway, AWCC is a non-profit sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, research, and quality animal care. AWCC takes in orphaned and injured animals year-round and provides them a forever home. The sanctuary maintains over 200 acres of spacious habitats for resident animals to feel at home displaying their natural wild behavior as education ambassadors for their species.  The AWCC has a partnership with the US Forest Service and leases 110 additional acres that are dedicated specifically to wood bison.

The AWCC is home to lynx, brown bears, porcupines, wood bison, black bears, foxes, coyotes, wolves, moose, elk, Sitka black-tail deer, muskox, caribou, reindeer, a bald eagle, a great horned owl, a red squirrel, and ferrets. The animals are cared for in large, natural environments. It is common for visitors to see brown bears swimming, moose strutting, wood bison roaming, muskox playing, wolves posing, porcupines climbing, and more!

Since 2003, the AWCC has taken part in a program to reintroduce native wood bison back into Alaska after a 100-year absence. The wood bison is the largest land mammal in North America and is a keystone grazing herbivore from the region. This project is a joint effort with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. In 2015, 130 wood bison were released back into western Alaska. For more information, visit the Wood Bison Restoration page.

Along with our conservation efforts, the AWCC is also dedicated to providing our guests with high-quality learning opportunities. Educational efforts include development of STEM curriculum, as well as teaching visitors and students about Alaska’s wildlife through field trips, tours, interpretive signage, and animal presentations.

Discover the WILD of Alaska and come meet the locals! Walk on the Wild Side Tours are available year-round and include an animal encounter. Summer Moose Encounters & Bear Encounters are available for online booking. Book early to ensure your spot!