Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge

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The Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers dominate the landscape of Yukon Delta. The rivers form a treeless, wetland plain noted for wildlife variety and abundance. An intricate maze of lakes, ponds, and meandering streams provide nesting and feeding habitat for over 750,000 swans and geese, 2 million ducks, and 100 million shore and water birds. Moose, caribou, grizzly bear, black bear, and wolves inhabit the northern hills and eastern mountains.

The 1.1 million acre Nunivak Island portion of the refuge supports an introduced herd of muskox and reindeer. Muskox vanished from Alaska in 1865 because of over-harvesting. The introduced herd of muskox on Nunivak Island has been prolific. The herd is used as a breeding stock to establish herds elsewhere in Alaska and the Soviet Union. The reindeer herd is a major source of food and income for island residents.

Over the centuries the abundance of wildlife has made the Yukon Delta the heart of Yupik Eskimo culture in Alaska. The refuge encompasses 42 Eskimo villages whose residents depend on the wildlife resources. The legislation that established Yukon Delta enables rural residents to continue a lifestyle that allows them to live off the land.

VISITOR USE: Fishing, hunting, and backcountry recreation may be excellent, although aircraft transportation is needed. The Andreafsky is a nationally designated wild river. Visitors may view exhibits and obtain complete information at refuge headquarters visitor center.

Refuge Manager
P.O. Box 346
Bethel, Alaska 99559-0346
(907) 543-3151


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 13 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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