The US government has set aside several areas as National Wildlife Refuge to conserve the wildlife within the regions. According to statistics from the US government, there were approximately 67 regions in the United States classified as National Wildlife Refuge. One of the main departments of the US government is the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and part of its mandate is to manage the National Wildlife Refuge systems. A significant number of these protected areas are situated in Alaska.
Largest National Wildlife Refuges
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The most extensive wildlife refuge system in the US is situated in the state of Alaska and is known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The sanctuary covers an area of roughly 30,135 square miles that is located in the northern section of Alaska. Initially, in 1960 the government of the US designated the region as a federally protected area after several prominent Americans such as George Collins and Lowell Sumner called for the area to be protected.
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
The second largest wildlife refuge in the US is also situated in Alaska and is referred to as the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge system covers an area of roughly 30,000 square miles. The refuge traces its history back to the early 20th century, particularly 1909 when President Theodore Roosevelt established the refuge. President Carter increased the coverage of the refuge after he assented to the bill of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The refuge is unique because apart from conserving wildlife, it also provides a home to a significant number of people.
Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge
The state of Alaska is also home to the third largest wildlife refuge in the US, the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge spans an area of roughly 13,500 square miles. Several rivers flow through the refuge with the most prominent ones being the Chandalar River and the Yukon River. The region was declared a refuge due to its significance as a breeding spot for several species of waterfowl. The refuge was established during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge
The fourth largest refuge in the US is also situated in the state of Alaska and is known as the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. The Togiak Refuge spans an area of roughly 6,410 miles. The refuge is situated on the southwestern edge of Alaska. The Togiak Refuge is popular because it is home to close to 50 species of mammals. Seventeen of the mammal species within the refuge are marine mammals. Some of the terrestrial mammals found in the refuge include Arctic foxes, caribou, and red foxes while the marine mammals in the refuge include whales and sea lions.
Innoko National Wildlife Refuge
The fifth largest refuge in the US is the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge which is situated in the western edge of Alaska where it spans an area of 6,016 square miles. The refuge was established in 1980 during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. The Innoko Refuge is of great ecological importance as some birds nest within its boundaries such as the ospreys and bald eagles.
The Importance of Wildlife Refuges
Wildlife refuges are of great ecological significance as they safeguard the habitats of numerous species of wildlife. They also provide scientists an opportunity to study the wildlife in their natural habitat.