Wildlife Viewing & Photography

Tufted Puffin with fish

Birding: Birding is a very popular activity in the Kodiak archipelago. More than 200 species of birds have been recorded here, most of which can be found in the refuge.  In winter, the archipelago provides important habitat for sea ducks and other aquatic migratory birds, whose combined populations number well over a million bird and give Kodiak the greatest diversity of wintering birds in the State. Although not a major migratory bird pathway, the summer brings Bank Swallows from South America and Puffins from the deep North Pacific waters, as well as a number of other migrants.  Many nesting species are year-round residents.

Bear Viewing:
 Many people travel to Kodiak from around the world, hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous Kodiak brown bear. Sighting bears along the road system is uncommon and there are no viewing tours available. For your safety and the safety of bears, guided options for bear viewing off the road system are advisable, either through extended stays at remote lodges and camps or flight-seeing trips for a half day or full day.  Information on commercial operators is available at the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce.  Popular destinations for guided bear viewing day trips include Frazer Lake, at the south end of the refuge, and the Katmai coast, across the Shelikof Strait from Kodiak.  Both trips require a 45 minute flight in a float plane.
Kodiak Brown Bear Viewing Primer

Wildlife photography
is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures. Individuals who wish to photograph or film their refuge visits for personal use do not need a refuge permit. However, professional filming activities, where film or video footage is gathered with the intention of using it for commercial purposes, do need a special use permit.  Application guidance for commercial filming/photography can be found here.