SELAWIK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
It could be argued that Selawik National Wildlife Refuge contains some of the most historically significant acreage in North America, as the refuge lands once formed part of the American portion of the vast Bering Land Bridge that, some scientists speculate, was the route followed by the ancestors of many of today's large mammals, as well as early humans, when traveling between Asia and the America's some 12,000 years ago.
Today, the refuge is home to a variety of wildlife. Hundreds of thousands of caribou from the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, the largest in Alaska, travel through the refuge in spring and fall. Portions of the herd sometimes winter on Selawik. Moose, brown bear, wolverine and other furbearers are present year around. Selawik's approximately 24,000 lakes and wetlands also serve as breeding or stop-over resting places for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, some arriving from as far away as Australia. And, in addition to the sheefish that gave the refuge its name, whitefish, arctic grayling and northern pike are present in Selawik's waters.
Selawik Refuge is an awe-inspiring land of vast tundra, spruce forest, birch and alder lined foothills. The sweeping waterways and wetlands give shelter and provide habitat for a wide array of migratory and resident arctic fauna. Because the Selawik refuge is in the transition zone where the northernmost boreal forest gives way to true arctic tundra, there are a diverse array of fish and wildlife species found here. More than 30 mammal, 10 fish, and 160 bird species can be found on the refuge at various times of the year.
Selawik National Wildlife Refuge is located in remote northwestern Alaska. The Refuge is encompassed by an arctic landscape rich in cultural heritage and natural beauty. Northwest Alaska has played a key role in North American history as a travel route, as a home for northern peoples, a rich trapping ground, and as a reindeer herding area, to name just a few topics of historical interest. Like many other National Parks, Preserves, and Refuges, the Selawik Refuge was officially established in 1980 with the passage of ANILCA. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. This land designation and subsequent management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the most recent chapter in the long history of this northern landscape.