Wildlife & Habitat

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The Kanuti Refuge was established to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity, while allowing natural processes, including wildland fire and the natural hydrologic cycle, to shape the environment. (USFWS/Wild North Photography)

  • Mammals

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    Thirty-six species of mammals are known to occur on the Refuge. Beaver are common, moose occur in relatively low numbers, and black and grizzly bears can be found anywhere. Tracks of wolves and other furbearers, such as American marten, fox, and river otter are commonly seen in winter, but these species are difficult to observe during the summer months. Caribou often winter on the Refuge, although usually in low numbers. (USFWS/Wild North Photography)


    Visit our Science page to learn more about past and current mammal studies on Kanuti Refuge.

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  • Birds

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    At least 150 species of birds have been recorded on the Refuge or nearby in Bettles, of which fewer than 20 are likely year round residents. The Koyukuk and Kanuti Rivers and their associated wetlands provide productive breeding habitat for many species of waterfowl and waterbirds.


    Visit our Science page to learn more about past and current avian studies in Kanuti Refuge.

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  • Fish

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    Seventeen species of fish, some of which are extremely important subsistence resources, are known to occur in waters within the refuge. (USFWS/Steve Hildebrand)

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  • Habitat

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    The Refuge lies within the boreal forest or "taiga" biome that spans the northern (or boreal) portions of North America, Europe, and Asia. The Russian term "taiga" (for "little sticks") is descriptive of the small coniferous trees that grow in this region. Muskeg is another term frequently used in conjunction with the boreal forest; it refers to wet, boggy areas that are usually dominated by Sphagnum peat moss and stunted spruce trees. "Boreal forest" is often used as a comprehensive term that includes the forest, muskeg, forest openings, and wetlands that characterize this region. This mosaic, or patchwork, of different vegetation types within the boreal forest is the visible culmination of complex interactions between climate, topography, geology, soils, hydrology, permafrost, and fire.

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