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

The Western Arctic Caribou herd migrate through the refuge twice a year.
160 2nd Ave
P.O. Box 270
Kotzebue, AK   99752
E-mail: selawik@fws.gov
Phone Number: 907-442-3799
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Caribou crossing the Selawik River
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  Recreation and Education Opportunities

Given the fact that the refuge's name is derived from the Inupiaq word "siilvik," which translates as "the place where sheefish spawn," it's no surprise that these oversized whitefish are probably the species most sought by both sport and subsistence fishers. Dubbed "the tarpon of the north" by outdoor writers, sheefish (also called "inconnu,") can reach weights of more than 50 pounds and are spirited fighters. They're commonly caught through the lake ice in the early spring, and can be tempted to flies or artificial lures along the Selawik River during the summer months.

As is the case with many of Alaska's National Wildlife Refuges, Selawik has long been, and continues to be, used for subsistence hunting by local residents. These users are mostly Inupiaq Eskimos, although Athabascan Indians from Huslia also hunt caribou in the headwaters of the Selawik River. Though the refuge is difficult to get to, airplane charter services and big game guides are available to help sport hunters access its lands, primarily in search of moose and caribou from the Western Arctic Herd, thousands of which migrate through the refuge during the fall hunting season. Brown (grizzly) bears are also found on Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, and remain on its lands throughout the year.

Wildlife Observation
Probably the best way to see the wildlife of Selawik National Wildlife Refuge is by floating the Selawik River, a nationally designated "Wild River." Moose, brown and black bear and wolverine are present on the refuge through the year, while many species of waterfowl and water birds, some traveling from as far away as Australia, arrive on the refuge every summer to raise their young.

Few people venture into remote Selawik specifically for photography, but the hunter or angler who leaves his or her camera behind will have ample opportunities to regret doing so. In addition to the refuge's wealth of wildlife, visitors are treated to a wild, open and ancient landscape.

Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace is a national educational program to inform visitors about reducing the damage caused by outdoor activities, particularly non-motorized recreation. Leave No Trace principles and practices are based on an abiding respect for the natural world and our fellow wildland visitors. We can act on behalf of the places and wildlife that inspire us by adopting the skills and ethics that enable us to Leave No Trace.

1. Plan ahead and prepare.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
3. Dispose of waste properly.
4. Leave what you find.
5. Minimize campfire impacts.
6. Respect wildlife.
7. Be considerate of other visitors.

For more information on Leave No Trace, visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Web site. (http://www.lnt.org)

The refuge headquarters, located in Kotzebue, are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Refuge lands are open to the public at all times.

The Inter-Agency Interpretive Center ("Innaigvik") is open seasonally from May until September, and is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. During the off-season, the center may be accessed by scheduling an escorted visit with either the refuge Education Specialist, or a National Park Service Interpretive Ranger.

Entrance Fees
There are no visitors fees charged anywhere on the refuge.

- Refuge Profile Page -