Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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— State Game Refuge
Fish and Wildlife
Trading Bay wetlands provide critical spring feeding, summer nesting, and fall staging habitat for thousands of ducks, geese, swans, and cranes. The first habitat to be used in spring is a narrow band of ice-free coast where large concentrations of waterfowl rest and feed. Canada geese (including the lesser, cackling, and Taverner's sub-species), lesser snow geese, Pacific white-fronted geese, Tule white-fronted geese, and trumpeter and tundra swans use the area in large numbers. Small numbers of Pacific brant are also found. As spring break-up moves inland, waterfowl disperse throughout Trading Bay to nest. Particularly high concentrations of nesting trumpeter swans are found along the Kustatan River. Nesting ducks include mallard, pintail, green-winged teal, wigeon, shoveler, common eider, mergansers, scoters, scaup, and goldeneye. Loons, shorebirds, and bald eagles also nest on the refuge. Tule geese are known to nest in the McArthur River drainages and molt in the Middle River area. In the fall, waterfowl populations once again concentrate in flocks on the refuge in preparation for their southward migration.
The lowlands of Trading Bay provide important wintering habitat for approximately 500 moose. In addition to resident animals, these may include moose from the hills to the east and west where winter snow depth is too deep to obtain browse. Moose calve in bushy riparian habitat throughout the refuge in spring. Brown bears forage on the tidal flats each spring and summer and each year from early summer through early fall, the Noaukta Slough supports high numbers of black and brown bears feeding on returning salmon. Healthy populations of coyote, mink, land otter, and weasels inhabit the wetlands year-round and there is a resident wolf pack that ranges through the area.
Five salmon-producing river systems crossing the refuge: Kustatan, McArthur, Chakachatna, Middle, and Nikolai. Of these, the McArthur-Chakachatna system is probably the most productive. These systems all support coho salmon; Nikolai Creek and McArthur-Chakachatna rivers also support small runs of Chinook salmon, and the Chakachatna system is a large producer of sockeye salmon. Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and smelt are also found in refuge streams.