Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge


The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, 2,000 acres of ponds, feeding grounds, and marshes along the Kootenai River near Bonners Ferry, is open for picnicking, hiking, and bird watching. This beautiful wildlife sanctuary is an ideal place to observe the wide variety of waterfowl that stops here during annual migrations, as well as the resident elk, moose, beavers, and songbirds. To provide food for the migrating waterfowl, refuge employees plant fields of barley, which are left unharvested and then flooded in the fall.

The refuge was created in 1965 to reclaim wetlands that had been drained by farmers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired 2,774 acres of riverside floodplain, built ponds, and piped in water from nearby Myrtle Creek to fill them.

The refuge hosts huge flocks of ducks and geese that raise their young here in the spring and stop to feed in the fall. Great views of the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains are an added bonus.

Visitors are encouraged, but no camping is allowed. Free brochures, a listing of bird arrival dates, drinking water, and rest rooms are available at the office. A self-guided auto tour winds four miles among the ponds for close-up views of the wildlife.

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