The Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge supports one of the largest and most diverse populations of breeding shorebirds in the Western Hemisphere More than 500,000 shorebirds use the refuge annually, including more than 30% of the global population of Bar-tailed Godwit and Bristle-thighed Curlew.
Yukon River Delta by air
Photo by Brad Winn
The delta was created by the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers and their tributaries. The immense wilderness includes 8,000,000 hectares of low tundra communities, 310,000 hectares of unvegetated intertidal mud and sand flats, and 4,100 km of shoreline broken by 22 large river mouths and 13 bays. The extensive intertidal flats are adjacent to about 920,000 hectares of wet, sedge-grass meadows that lie between the average high-tide line and the storm-tide line. Coastal meadows and heath tundra are dotted with numerous lakes and ponds. 70% of the refuge is less than 100 feet in elevation.
The Andreafsky Wilderness is a region of rolling hills, most of which are covered by moist tundra. Ridge tops and sleeper slopes support xeric alpine tundra. Spruce forest/muskeg is widespread in the two major river valleys of the Andreafsky River. Oxbow lakes, beaver ponds, and gravel bars provide additional shorebird habitat along the rivers.
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Ecology & Conservation
All nominated lands are within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources and other compatible uses in accordance with the National Refuge Administration Act (1966), the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (1980), and the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act (1997).
Subsistence harvest of large shorebirds has increased dramatically along at the central YKD coastline over the last several years. The reasons for and scope of the increase are unknown.
Although human induced threats are minimal, possible increase in the number of Common Ravens, due to the presence of open dumps in neighboring villages, could increase predation on shorebird nests to a point that exceeds historical levels.
Shorebird Species Present:
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