Resource Management

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Management at Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge is focused on ensuring the biological heath of the natural resources within the refuge and is governed by federal laws such as the National Wildlife System Administration Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).


The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is among the most populated rural areas in Alaska. There are 35 villages and nearly 25,000 Yup’ik Eskimo people who make the delta their home. This is a region rich in culture, where residents depend on resources to support an active subsistence way of life. 

Yukon Delta Refuge is famed for its waterfowl. Without question, the refuge supports one of the largest aggregations of water birds in the world. A spectacle takes place every spring as millions of ducks, geese, and other water birds return to the refuge to nest, but a vision of the refuge must be much broader than waterfowl. It supports one of the most important shorebird nesting areas in the United States in terms of both density and species diversity. Hundreds of miles of rivers and streams provide spawning and rearing habitat for 44 species of fish, including all five North American Pacific salmon. Drier upland habitats harbor populations of both brown and black bears, caribou, moose, wolves, and muskox. Along the coast of the refuge, the waters of the Bering Sea host a variety of marine mammals, including whales which pass during migration.

Refuge Purpose 

Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) with the following purposes for which the refuge shall be managed:
1) to conserve fish and wildlife populations and their habitats in their natural diversity including, but not limited to shorebirds, seabirds, tundra swans, emperor, white-fronted and Canada geese, black brant and other migratory birds, salmon, muskox, and marine mammals;
2) to fulfill the international treaty obligations of the United States with respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats;
3) to provide, in a manner consistent with the purposes set forth in subparagraphs (i) and (ii), the opportunity for continued subsistence uses by local residents;
4) to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable and in a manner consistent with the purposes set forth in paragraph (i), water quality and necessary water quality within the refuge.