As is the case on most other Alaskan refuges, management activities on the Yukon Delta NWR focus on projects related to wildlife and habitat monitoring rather than on any form of habitat manipulation. The information resulting from this monitoring forms the heart of the refuge's management program: an information exchange with the 25,000 residents that live in small isolated villages within the refuge boundary. Through organized groups such as the Waterfowl Conservation Committee, the Regional Subsistence Advisory Council, the State Fish and Game Advisory Committees, and the Kuskokwim Fisheries Working Group, refuge staff and area residents discuss concerns and address resource problems.
The refuge provides the nation's most productive subarctic goose habitat. Surveys and studies related to the productivity of geese and other waterfowl provide much of the information used to carry out the refuge's management activities. This work is conducted by refuge staff, in partnership with the Service's Migratory Bird Management office, the U.S.G.S. Biological Resources Division, various universities, and other partners.
Although most noted for waterfowl and other migratory bird habitat, the refuge also supports muskox, caribou, brown, and moose. These species are harvested by subsistence hunters, and surveys and studies are conducted in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to monitor the health of these populations.
Salmon runs that occur on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers provide a major source of food for area residents. In cooperation with the State of Alaska, the refuge shares management jurisdiction for decisions that affect the commercial and subsistence harvest of these fish.
Lightning-caused wildfires occur every year on the refuge, but most of the land is low-lying tundra interspersed with lakes and rivers. Because of this, fires rarely exceed a few acres, and do not play a significant role in altering habitat.
The work described above can only be conducted with the help of equipment to transport biologists and others to the far reaches of the refuge. Aircraft, boats and snowmachines make this possible, and serve as the counterparts to the ubiquitous pickup truck of Lower-48 refuges in carrying out day-to-day responsibilities.