Seasons of Wildlife
Spring is heralded by massive flocks of migrating birds, descending on any open water. As ice recedes from rivers, beluga whales press upstream to devour smelt. Daylight hours are long and bright. Summer on the refuge is our busiest season. All birds, fish, and mammals are out and about. Close behind them are scientists studying their habits, anglers trying to catch a couple of fish, and lone adventurers with cameras in hand. A telltale sign of fall is bears loading up on fish in preparation for a long winter's sleep. Frost shifts leaf colors and turns the tundra radiant. The frozen landscape may seem forbidding, but wildlife continues to thrive. Wolves track game in the snow. Ptarmigan and snowshoe hare blend into the background. Our biologists fly afield to continue their research.
Alaska Peninsula Refuge is home to all five species of Pacific salmon. In fact, a large percentage of sockeye salmon that contribute to Alaska’s Bristol Bay fishery (the largest in the world) are born within and return to this Refuge to spawn. Hear two perspectives about Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon on these episodes of Fish of the Week! featuring Orville Lind and Daniel Schindler.
With an abundant supply of salmon, the Refuge is also home to numerous brown bears. Bears use nearly all Refuge lands, from mountaintops to the seacoast.
Moose and Caribou
One of Alaska’s 13 major caribou herds (the northern Alaska Peninsula herd) also depends on this Refuge. Moose have been observed on the Refuge since the early 1900s, but didn't become abundant until the 1950s. They travel seasonally to breeding, calving, and wintering areas.
More than 200 species of birds have been observed on or near the Refuge. The cliffs, bays, and poorly-drained lowlands provide abundant habitat for millions of birds, particularly seabirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds that use the Refuge primarily as a staging area during migration to and from nesting grounds in the Arctic. Seabirds also use the Refuge for breeding. Numerous ponds, lakes, streams, and wetlands on the Peninsula provide ample breeding habitat. In the summer, migratory songbirds and raptors make use of the abundant shrub lands, tundra, and forest environments.