KOOTENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
KOOTENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is located in Idaho's Panhandle approximately 20 miles south of the Canadian border and 5 miles west of Bonners Ferry, Idaho (map). This 2,774 acre refuge was established in 1965, primarily to provide important habitat and a resting area for migrating waterfowl. The Refuge is comprised of a wide variety of habitat types. Wetlands, meadows, riparian forests and cultivated agricultural fields (for producing valuable wildlife food crops) are interspersed in the valley bottom adjacent to the west banks of the Kootenai River. Wetlands include open-water ponds, seasonal cattail-bulrush marshes, tree-lined ponds and rushing creeks. The western portion of the refuge ascends the foothills of the scenic Selkirk Mountains which consists of dense stands of coniferous trees and tranquil riparian forests.
Over 300 different species of wildlife can be found on Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, indicating the richness and diversity this area holds. The refuge not only serves as valuable habitat for resident andmigratory wildlife, but provides a nice stopping point for visitors to get out and enjoy some of the vast natural beauty Boundary County has to offer. The refuge receives approximately 20,000 visitors annually; bringing together people from all nationalities and different backgrounds for the enjoyment of our Nation's natural wildlife resources.
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A hard copy of the refuge brochure and hunting & fishing regulations can be obtained by contacting our Office or stopping by one of our information kiosks, located at the East Parking Lot and at Refuge Headquarters.
The northward waterfowl migration coincides with the thawing of refuge ponds in late February. Tundra swans, Canada geese, and ducks stop on the refuge to rest and feed while other birds begin their courtship displays. Among the most spectacular displays are snipe "winnowing" and ruffed grouse "drumming." By late spring, waterfowl, bald eagles, osprey, and songbirds are nesting. Occasionally a visitor may be fortunate enough to see a black bear, a moose or an elk.
By early summer, geese and ducks have hatched. Their broods can be seen on ponds along with American coots and red-necked and pied-billed grebes. An active bald eagle nest can be observed from the Auto Tour Road. Northern harriers, red-tailed hawks, and American kestrels are commonly seen hunting over refuge fields. Osprey hunt for fish from the air while great blue herons wade in shallow water searching for fish and frogs on refuge ponds. Dippers flit among the rocks in Myrtle Creek.
In the mornings and evenings, beavers, coyotes, mule, and white-tailed deer might be seen. Osprey and shorebirds depart early in the season, while duck migration peaks in early November. Bald eagles arrive at the same time in search of sick or injured ducks that make an easy meal.
Ponds freeze over by late November and remaining waterfowl move to the ice-free Kootenai River. They continue to feed in refuge grain fields. Bald eagles concentrate around the flocks of ducks. Rough-legged hawks hunt for mice on the uplands.
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