Wildlife & Habitat
The Refuge provides habitat for a wide diversity of wildlife species – more than 250 species of birds and 41 species of land mammals call the Refuge “home” for some part of their life cycle. The bay and estuary of the Dungeness River supports waterfowl, shorebirds, water waders, shellfish, and harbor seals. Anadromous fish like Chinook, Coho, pink and chum salmon occur in the waters of Dungeness Bay and Harbor. Numerous species of waterfowl stop briefly in the Dungeness area each fall on their journey south for the winter and again when they head north in the spring. Many species of waterfowl winter in the area. Dungeness Bay and Harbor support black brant, present from late October through early May, with peak numbers of approximately 3,000-5,000 in April. Shorebirds and water waders feed and rest along the water’s edge. Harbor seals haul out to rest and give birth to pups on the end of Dungeness Spit. The tideflats support crabs, clams, and other shellfish.
Dungeness NWR is recognized as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society (http://wa.audubon.org/science_IBAWashington.html). The Refuge is internationally significant because many of the birds that stop here breed as far north as Alaska and migrate as far south as South America. The Dungeness area is additionally important as a spring staging area (a place where large groups of birds stop to build up their fat reserves for migration) for black brant and other waterfowl. Canada, Mexico, and the United States have implemented international treaties to ensure that migratory birds are protected and managed on a continental basis.