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Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge  

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

The 1.9 million acre Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which covers the southern two-thirds of Kodiak Island, all of Ban and Uganik Islands and a small section of Afognak Island, is the chief stronghold of the Alaska brown bear. Established in 1941, Kodiak's scenery is magnificent and its diverse habitat ranges from rugged mountains and alpine meadows to wetlands, spruce forest and grassland. No place on the refuge is more than 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean where mountains rise 4,000 feet from a shoreline accented with fjord-like inlets.

The Kodiak bear, a subspecies of the brown bear, is the largest land carnivore in the world. Males normally weigh in at more than 800lb but have been known to exceed 1500lb. Females usually weigh in at 400lb to 600lb. An estimated 2300 bears reside in the refuge for one of the world's highest densities. From mid-July to mid-September the bears congregate at streams to gorge themselves on spawning salmon. The runs are so heavy that the bears often become selective, and many feast only on females and then eat only the belly portion containing the eggs.

The birdlife is also prolific in the refuge. More than 250 species of birds live upon or visit the refuge, while more than 1.5 million seabirds winter in near-shore waters surrounding Kodiak Island. Nesting within the refuge are 600 breeding pairs of eagles. Flowing out of the steep fjords and deep glacial valleys and into the sea are 117 salmon-bearing streams that support all five species of Pacific salmon and account for 65 percent of the total commercial salmon harvest in Kodiak.

The refuge is renowned for bear viewing and hunting for trophy brown bears while the Karluk River and the Ayakulik River offer world-class fishing opportunities for salmon and steelhead fishing. Other recreational opportunities include kayaking, rafting and camping.

The climate of Kodiak Island is dominated by a strong marine influence and characterized by moderately heavy precipitation, cool temperatures and cloudy days. This makes hypothermia a concern no matter when you are visiting.

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