Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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— Critical Habitat Area
Fish and Wildlife
The critical habitat area provides spring and fall resting and feeding habitat for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl on their way to and from nesting grounds to the north, and during the summer is an important waterfowl nesting area itself for ducks, geese, swans, and scores of other birds. During spring, summer, and early fall, it supports the largest known concentration of Tule white-fronted geese in the world. The area's wetlands are also heavily used by cackling Canada geese, Taverner's Canada geese, lesser Canada geese, snow geese, and tundra and trumpeter swans. In the summer, the area is home to several tens of thousands of breeding ducks including pintail, mallard, green-winged teal, wigeon, shoveler, scaup, canvasback, and common eider. Shorebirds most likely to be seen in the critical habitat area include yellowlegs, snipe, godwits, whimbrels, several species of sandpipers, plovers, dunlin, and phalaropes. Sandhill cranes pass through during migration and a few pairs may stay and nest each year. Bald eagles, ravens, gulls, and passerines can also be seen in the area during spring, summer, and fall.
The Redoubt Bay wetlands provide riparian moose winter habitat along the Big, Drift, and Kustatan rivers and the numerous streams which connect to them. Brown bears are abundant and during mid- to late summer, when the salmon are returning to spawn, can frequently be observed along intertidal drainages on the outer flats. Black bears are also abundant, but usually remain farther inland, in the mountains and foothills. Furbearers present include coyote, fox, wolf, mink, river otter, marten, muskrat, wolverine, weasel, lynx, and beaver. Harbor seals haul out at the mouths of streams and beluga whales feed on returning salmon off of the river mouths in Cook Inlet.
Five species of salmon spawn in the area's streams and lakes, although sockeye, coho, and pink salmon are the most abundant. Red salmon run up Big River from early June into August. Dolly Varden trout are also present.