U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

Seventeen kinds of marine mammals swim along the Refuge's 600 miles of coastline.
6 Main Street
PO Box 270
Dillingham, AK   99576
E-mail: togiak@fws.gov
Phone Number: 907-842-1063
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Pacific Walrus find sanctuary on Togiak at their largest haulout on a National Wildlife Refuge.
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  Wildlife and Habitat

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With terrain that varies from sheer mountain peaks and sea cliffs to open stretches of tundra and wetlands, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge has many distinctive habitats that provide homes to all sorts of wildlife. The vast 4.7 million acres of the refuge are defined and divided by river drainages. There are 35 river systems here, the most prominent of which are the Kanektok, Goodnews, and Togiak rivers. The rivers are the lifeblood of the region, totaling over 1,500 miles of stream and river habitat, and serving as transportation pathways for animals and humans.

The key to the health of the rivers, and indeed, the entire refuge ecosystem, are the five species of Pacific salmon that return to their home waters here year after year. Salmon in all forms  from eggs to spawned-out adults  provide important food for other life on the refuge. Salmon enrich the ecosystem by carrying nutrients in their bodies gained as they grew to adulthood in the ocean, which are then released into the freshwater and shorelines as salmon spawn, die, and decompose. For example, a Dolly Varden might grow fat by feeding on salmon eggs and pieces of dead salmon, and then in turn be caught and eaten by a brown bear. The bear may leave the bones and skin of the fish on a grassy bank, where it rots away and feeds grass that is later eaten by a hungry moose. In all of these cases the plants and animals are utilizing nitrogen and other nutrients the salmon originally acquired in the marine environment.

Togiak National Wildlife Refuge conserves habitat for at least 201 bird species, including landbirds, shorebirds, seabirds, raptors, and waterfowl. Birds from the North American Pacific Flyway and several Asiatic migration routes funnel through the area. Many bird species breed here, while others stop to feed and rest before continuing on. The Nushagak Peninsula within Togiak National Wildlife Refuge has been included in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network due to its importance as seasonal habitat for birds such as dunlins and western sandpipers. Over a million seabirds nest on ledges and in burrows along the refuges sea cliffs, primarily in the Cape Peirce area.

Marine and land mammals, living on or near Togiak National Wildlife Refuge year-round, are specially adapted to endure the long winters. Many smaller mammals here store fat so they can hibernate through the cold months; brown bears follow a similar strategy, although their sleep is not deep enough to be considered true hibernation. Arctic foxes and snowshoe hares change their coloration from a summer brown phase to white in winter. Caribou have large hooves which act like snowshoes to help them travel over snow, and also help them as they paw away the snow to find food underneath. Marine mammals develop thick layers of blubber (fat) that help them feel at home in frigid waters and make them more buoyant as well. All the animals stay busy during the summer months, caching food and feeding on the abundance of salmon, migratory birds and their eggs, fresh grasses, seeds and berries.

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