What We Do

Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

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is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species. 

Management and Conservation

Refuges deploy a host of scientifically sound management tools to address biological challenges. These tools span active water management to wilderness character monitoring, all aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach to benefit both wildlife and people.

Kodiak Refuge has a Comprehensive Conservation Plan that specifies a management direction for the Refuge for 15 years (2008-2023). It describes the goals, objectives, and strategies for improving Refuge conditions—including the types of habitat we will provide, partnership opportunities, management actions needed to achieve desired conditions, and preferred alternative for managing the Refuge and its effects on the human environment.

The vision statement for and purposes of Kodiak Refuge provide the framework for developing goals and objectives for managing the Refuge. Goals are broad statement of desired future conditions. Objectives are concise statements of what the Refuge wants to accomplish. (Note: some objectives, though identified under a specific goal, may apply to more than one goal. When appropriate, objectives will be conducted in coordination with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or other cooperators)

Goal 1: Increase our knowledge of fish and wildlife populations, their habitats, and their interrelationships

Our objectives are to complete the inventory and monitoring plan for refuge fauna and flora; monitor for fish, wildlife, and avian diseases and invasive aquatic species; curate wildlife study records using professional database-management standards and methods; publish, in peer-reviewed journals, or otherwise make publicly available, results of refuge-sponsored research and routine surveys.

Goal 2: Ensure that Kodiak brown bears continue to flourish throughout the Refuge and congregate at traditional concentration areas

Our objectives are to monitor and evaluate trends in population size, composition, and mortality (including the Afognak Island population); maintain bear densities within established ranges; complete genetic diversity assessment of Kodiak brown bears to better understand their vulnerability to diseases, environmental stresses, and parameters of population viability. Monitor the supply of berries thought to be essential to the brown bear population.  In areas of high public use or special management concern, increase monitoring efforts related to bear densities and bear-human interactions.

Goal 3:  Manage nonnative species to minimize impacts on native resources, while continuing to provide opportunities for harvest. Implement studies to evaluate habitat use and preferences of Sitka black-tail deer and their influence on winter range habitat and their effect on berry-producing shrubs (important brown bear habitat). Monitor deer population trends on Kodiak Island to facilitate harvest and habitat management. Monitor annually trends in distribution, size, and composition of the elk population on Afognak Island.

Our objectives are to monitor trends in population size and productivity, habitat use and preference, and summer and winter distribution of the mountain goat population. Implement studies to evaluate habitat use and preference of Sitka black-tail deer, their influence on habitat (winter range), and their effect on berry-producing shrubs; and monitor population trends on Kodiak Island to facilitate harvest and habitat management. We'll also annually monitor trends in distribution, size, and composition of the elk population on Afognak Island.  

Goal 4: Continue to improve understanding and management of furbearing and nongame mammals that use Kodiak Refuge

Objectives include implementing a survey with Alaska Region’s Marine Mammals Office to annually index sea otter population trends; monitor trends in river otter populations; initiate habitat ecology study of snowshoe hares; expand communication, education, and information efforts related to furbearer management and harvest.

Goal 5: Monitor populations of resident and migratory birds as indicators of ecosystem health

Objectives include monitoring populations of environmentally sensitive resident birds (coastal) and wintering waterfowl; developing a banding program to monitor survival and productivity trends of sea ducks; monitor for long-term trends in distribution, size, and reproductive success of nesting bald eagles; identify important refuge habitat for bird species of conservation concern; collaborating with the Alaska Migratory Bird Management Office on periodic monitoring of wintering Steller’s eider populations; develop baseline information on contaminants.

Goal 6: Maintain and restore native plant populations, communities, and habitats.

Objectives include conducting reconnaissance surveys for invasive plants; initiate collaborative control or eradication actions, if necessary. Describe species composition for selected areas of the Refuge (emphasis on Kodiak Refugium); monitor and evaluate major plant communities near remote weather stations.

Goal 7: Conserve the abundance of natural salmonid populations for continued human and wildlife use and to ensure the diversity of species as indicators of the health of the Refuge’s ecosystem. 

Objectives include annually monitoring salmon escapement and harvest levels to ensure species diversity and future production and to support commercial, recreation, subsistence, and wildlife needs; evaluating need for steelhead escapement goals on selected rivers; monitor and assess populations of noncommercial species to gather baseline data; develop, in collaboration with ADF&G, strategies to improve and stabilize weak stocks; document and describe genetic characteristics and variability of natural fish populations (in the Refugium and refuge-wide). Using escapement, habitat, and other pertinent data, establish sustainable or biological escapement goals for all species of salmon within the Refuge; monitoring streamside areas to ensure spawning and rearing habitats remain productive.

Goal 8:  Provide the opportunity for local residents to continue their subsistence uses on the Refuge, consistent with the subsistence priority and with other refuge purposes.

Objectives include issuing special actions, under federal in-season management, when necessary to ensure conservation of healthy fish stocks and to provide for subsistence uses of fish in Federal waters; Coordinating with the Alaska Migratory Bird Management Office and other appropriate entities to ensure completion of annual Migratory Bird Harvest Surveys and other subsistence use surveys as needed.

Goal 9: Improve baseline understanding of natural flowing waters on the Refuge and maintain the water quality and quantity necessary to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity.

Objectives include ensuring that the Terror Lake Project is in compliance with instream-flow requirements specified in the FERC license; in coordination with our Branch of Water Resources, complete the water resources inventory and assessment of the Refuge waters and quantify and file for instream water rights for maintenance and protection of fish and wildlife habitat; initiate limnology studies on selected lakes and streams within the Refuge that provide important fish and wildlife habitat. 

Goal 10:  Provide opportunities for quality public use and enjoyment of refuge resources through compatible fish and wildlife-dependent recreation activities, including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, and photography

Objectives include monitoring and managing areas receiving seasonally heavy public use and areas under easement agreements to minimize impacts to fish, wildlife, and habitat; ensure compatibility; and provide for sustainable recreation. Develop operations plan for Refuge law enforcement which includes monitoring commercial activities (special use permits and operating plans), expanding outreach, and increasing field patrols. Assess the nature of available visitor experiences, significant influences on those experiences, and public acceptability of potential changes to those experiences prior to developing the viewing program at O’Malley River (or any other new sites) or modifying the program at the Frazer fish pass site. Prior to relocating existing cabins or identifying sites for new cabins, evaluate all current site (and any potential new sites) to ensure that a variety of compatible recreation opportunities are provided. Monitor and assess public access (off-road vehicle and snowmachine) and use of 17(b) easements, conservation easement conservation easement
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or qualified conservation organization that restricts the type and amount of development that may take place on a property in the future. Conservation easements aim to protect habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife by limiting residential, industrial or commercial development. Contracts may prohibit alteration of the natural topography, conversion of native grassland to cropland, drainage of wetland and establishment of game farms. Easement land remains in private ownership.

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lands, and other refuge lands and implement management actions to ensure that resource impacts are minimized. 

Goal 11: Improve management of commercial use opportunities that are compatible with refuge purposes, provide quality public use opportunities, enhance visitor experiences, and ensure compliance with provisions of ANILCA

Objectives include reviewing and developing, if needed, a new system for administering special use permit applications; developing an education program to inform commercial operators (permittees) of refuge requirements, goals, and regulations including updated information on bear safety and awareness. After obtaining stakeholder input, updating the 1987 Commercial Fisheries Plan, if necessary.

Goal 12: Provide outreach, environmental education, and interpretive programs that increase a sense of stewardship for wildlife, cultural resources, and the environment and that enhance visitor experiences on the Refuge.

Objectives are to plan, design, and complete a refuge visitor center (opened in November 2007); expand staffing, as needed. Update and improve refuge website (and other electronic media) as public information source. Establish funding for Summer Science and Salmon Camp program as part of refuge base funds. Work within local communities to increase awareness of the Refuge; continue to provide opportunities for: partnerships, volunteer projects, educational workshops with local schools (students and teachers), and environmental education, nature walks, and interpretive programs.

Goal 13: Conserve cultural and archaeological resources of the Refuge

Our objectives are to identify priority areas to inventory for archaeological and other cultural resource surveys; conduct surveys as time and personnel permit; identify and monitor sites at risk for vandalism. Formalize the existing partnership with the Alutiiq Museum; Identify and acquire archival resources necessary to support archaeological and historic site protection, public interpretation, and information useful in wildlife and habitat management; expand the Alaska Heritage Resource Stewardship Program for site monitoring and evaluating site conditions on the Refuge; and provide necessary training to refuge law-enforcement personnel and other staff.

Goal 14: Conserve special and unique features of the Kodiak Archipelago ecosystem within the Refuge.

Objectives include developing, with public involvement, a management plan for the Mount Glottof Research Natural Area.

Goal 15: Promote close working relationships through effective coordination, interaction, and cooperation with other federal agencies, state agencies, local communities, tribes, organizations, industries, the general public, and the landowners within and adjacent to the Refuge whose programs affect or are affected by refuge management activities.

Our objectives are to ensure that biological and subsistence management, monitoring, and research findings are provided to interested external audiences; continue refuge involvement and interaction with groups involved in the fish and game regulatory process; use public processes to encourage stakeholder involvement in implementing this Conservation Plan; continue the Refuge Information Technician program to enhance information exchange with local communities; participate in interagency activities, cooperative agreements, partnerships with local communities, and other actions that will help to accomplish mutual management goals and objectives.

Our Services

The Kodiak Refuge Visitor Center is located in downtown Kodiak. This facility is open year-round to the public and is the crossroads of conservation and education for Kodiak Refuge and our conservation partners. We offer fun and educational exhibits and programs, as well as travelling and other temporary exhibits, film festivals and artist receptions (free and open to the public). A feature of the Visitor Center is our award-winning 12-minute orientation film, available for screening on-demand, and the re-articulated gray whale skeleton. The Visitor Center also offers a downtown meeting space for local conservation-oriented organizations. For more information about scheduling workshops and other events, please contact the Visitor Center Manager at 907-487-0282 or call our information desk at 907-487-2626.

Other services we provide

  • Free bear fence and bear barrel rental
  • Free Families Understanding Nature (FUN) backpack rental
  • School programs
  • Educational kits for teachers
  • Special use permits

Our Projects and Research

Diverse island ecosystems, abundant fish and wildlife, and a remote wildland setting serve as an ideal outdoor laboratory. Working jointly, biologists with the Refuge, State of Alaska, and U.S. Geological Survey monitor populations of Kodiak brown bear, bald eagle, salmon and other fish and wildlife and their habitats to estimate trends in abundance, survival, and productivity. The Refuge also sponsors and conducts basic and applied research projects, develops monitoring methods, and evaluates management strategies.

By designing and implementing appropriate research and monitoring studies, the Refuge will better understand, conserve, and protect its natural and cultural resources for the continuing benefit of the public.

Law Enforcement

Alaska’s 16 National Wildlife Refuges are patrolled and protected by Federal Wildlife Officers. Federal Wildlife Officers are law enforcement professionals charged with protecting natural resources and public safety across the National Wildlife Refuge System. Their jobs may entail welcoming early morning refuge visitors, checking hunter licenses alongside state wildlife officers, helping refuge staff conduct biological surveys or giving a safety presentation to local schoolchildren. Using vehicles, snow machines, OHVs, boats, and even planes, Federal Wildlife Officers continue to connect and build relationships with the people of Alaska, rural and urban. Anyone with questions regarding USFWS law enforcement is encouraged to contact a local officer. For all who enjoy and rely upon the resources in National Wildlife Refuges, the USFWS Division of Refuge Law Enforcement is here to protect those resources for future generations.  Learn more, visit the Refuge Law Enforcement page.