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Visitor Activities

Bird watching

 Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge currently offers all of the Big Six wildlife-dependent public uses which include hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education and interpretation. The 2,774 acre Refuge offers waterfowl, big game and upland bird hunting; fishing; four walking/hiking tails; an Auto Tour Route; and an Environmental Education Center. No Fees are charged to the public.

  • Hunting

    Waterfowl hunting with youth

    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage.  Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciation of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.

     As practiced on refuges, hunting and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management.  For example, because their natural predators are gone, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support.

    Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System.

     To find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations on Kootenai NWR, see the hunting rules and regulations.

  • Fishing

    Fishing is a great way to reconnect with a favorite childhood activity, try it for the first time, or create a challenge for experienced anglers.  Fishing is allowed from the banks of Myrtle Creek only and follow the State of Idaho Fish and Game rules and regulations.  Brook trout are the common species fished for in Myrtle Creek, but anglers should be aware that the federally threatened Bull Trout also reside in these waters and must be released immediately.  To help with proper identification of bull trout, visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks website.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Observation

    Wildlife observation and photography are available from the four trails, the Auto Tour Route, the gazebo overlooking Cascade Pond, and overlooks along the county road. In addition, a photoblind is available on a first come, first serve basis.  The kiosk at refuge headquarters is equipped with two spotting scopes and offers good views of Greenwing Pond, Snipe Pond, Waterline Pond, and Redhead Pond. More than 220 species of birds and 45 mammals have been observed on the refuge. The Refuge was initally established as a migratory waterfowl refuge.  Thousands of migrating waterfowl can be observed in the spring and fall as well as eagles, hawks, and falcons.  The Friends of Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge host monthly bird walks on the third Saturday of each month at 9am.  For other events on the Refuge, check out the Friends of KNWR webpage.  We ask that enthusiastic visitors stay on the 4 designated trails or the auto tour route when exploring.

     Kootenai NWR is also a part of the International Selkirk Loop and Two Nation Birding Vacation. 

     
  • Interpretation

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    Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

    In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors.  Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.

    Through Refuge System interpretation programs, you can learn why nearly all of the critically endangered Whooping Cranes spend the winter at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, about the beneficial role of wildfire to encourage native vegetation to grow at Necedah Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, and thousands of other interesting and informative stories.

  • Environmental Education

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    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Kootenai NWR has an excellent Environmental Education (EE) facility. A historic barn was restored in 2003 and is currently available free of charge to school groups and environmental organizations. Computers with microscopes, education materials, and videos are available for use. The EEC includes displays of wildlife and waterfowl mounts, antlers, and other wildlife items for self-facilitated groups.  Because of limited staff, the EEC is not regularily open to the public.

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of a particular national wildlife refuge?  Contact or visit Kootenai NWR to check on program availability and reservation policies.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

  • Photography

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    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list.  Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! 

Page Photo Credits — Kids with Microscope. © Sharon Lindsay, Photography Blind.  © Sharon Lindsay, Eagle panel.  © Sharon Lindsay
Last Updated: Sep 10, 2013
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