The Izembek Refuge staff is responsible for administering four separate refuge units encompassing 2.9 million acres: Izembek Refuge; the Pavlof and North Creek units of Alaska Peninsula Refuge; and Unimak Island of Alaska Maritime Refuge. The refuges were established for a variety of purposes, including to conserve naturally diverse fish and wildlife populations and habitats, and to provide continued opportunity for subsistence uses by local residents. Izembek Refuge protects the watershed of Izembek Lagoon, which was one of the first U.S. sites to be named a Wetland of International Importance (1986). Izembek Lagoon contains North America's largest eelgrass bed and is vitally important to a wide variety of wildlife species, including migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and both aquatic and terrestrial mammals.
Refuge staff implement many monitoring programs to fulfill the refuge's mission. Working cooperatively with the State of Alaska, aerial surveys are conducted throughout the year to monitor the health and productivity of the Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd. Brown bear, moose, tundra swans, Pacific black brant, Taverner's and cackling Canada geese, emperor geese, other waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds are also surveyed throughout the year to monitor population numbers and productivity. Since 1961, refuge staff have captured and banded Steller's eiders (a threatened species) during their molting period on Izembek Lagoon. The data generated by these studies provide wildlife managers with critical population and survival rate information.Other management programs deal with harvest of brown bear, moose and caribou; salmon fishing; wildlife viewing and photography; and public education.
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Virtually the entire population of Pacific black brant (150,000 birds on average)feed and rest on Izembek Lagoon.