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National Wildlife Refuge

287 Westside Road
Bonners Ferry, ID   83805 - 5172
E-mail: Dianna_Ellis@fws.gov
Phone Number: 208-267-3888
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

Located 20 miles from the Canadian border and 5 miles from the town of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is bordered by the rugged Selkirk Mountains to the west, the Kootenai River, Deep Creek to the east, and State lands to the south.

Kootenai Refuge provides diverse habitats that consist primarily of wetlands with associated uplands, and hardwood/conifer forests. Although the purpose of the refuge is to provide migration habitat for thousands of waterfowl, more than 300 species of vertebrates, including nesting bald eagles, use the refuge for migration and breeding.

Getting There . . .
You can reach the refuge by taking Riverside Road, on the south bank of the Kootenai River, at Bonners Ferry.

Drive west for 5 miles to the refuge entrance. The office is 2 miles beyond the entrance. Drive with caution! The county roads are narrow and used by logging trucks.

Click here for a refuge map.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Water is diverted from Myrtle Creek, the refuge's main water supply, and pumped from the Kootenai River and Deep Creek to maintain permanent ponds and to flood waterfowl food plots in the fall. The primary goal of the refuge is to provide resting and feeding habitat for migrating waterfowl. Spring migrants include mallards, northern pintails, American wigeon, and tundra swans. Canada geese gather on the refuge during August and September, while mallards peak in November. Some waterfowl arrive in the spring and stay to nest on the refuge. The principal species are mallards, cinnamon and blue-winged teal, common golden-eyes, redheads, wood ducks, and Canada geese.

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Management Activities
The primary focus of management on the refuge is to provide resting and feeding habitat for migrating waterfowl. Over 800 acres of wetlands provide aquatic vegetation, invertebrates, and fish that form the food resource for a variety of wildlife, including water and marsh birds, waterfowl, raptors, muskrats, beavers, and moose.

Over 200 acres of grain and other crops are planted on the refuge for wildlife. The primary grain is barley. A fall flood-up of the grain fields provides an important food source for migrating waterfowl. To ensure that farm fields are dry enough for planting, these fields are drained in January.

All crops are left standing in the fields to feed thousands of hungry waterfowl to prepare them for their long migrations in the fall and spring. Deer, elk, and other wildlife also use the crops to build up energy reserves to help them survive the long, cold winters.

Mice and other rodents feeding on grain are more exposed to predation from predatory mammals and birds. So indirectly, the grain also helps feed hawks, eagles, owls, and coyotes. Stands of tall, dense grass on upland areas around wetlands provide nesting cover for ground-nesting birds. The grasslands and brushy areas also produce large populations of mice that serve as food for hawks, owls, and coyotes.

Brush rows are habitat for songbirds, raccoons, weasels, and bushy-tailed wood rats. Refuge wildlife habitats include a long, narrow strip of coniferous forest at the base of the Selkirk Mountains. The forest is home to elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, and black bear. Forest birds include Cooper's hawk, ruffed grouse, and pileated woodpecker.

Small stands of cottonwood trees line the riparian areas providing perching sites for raptors and other birds. Each year the refuge uses a combination of chemical, mechanical, and biological control agents to control noxious weeds. The objective is to protect and enhance native and indigenous plants and animals.