Nestled beside the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho, this 2,774 acre refuge provides diverse habitats for a large variety of wildlife including moose, elk, deer, bear, otter, bald eagles, and migratory waterfowl such as mallards, northern pintail, and teal. Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is located in Idaho's Panhandle approximately 20 miles south of the Canadian border and 5 miles west of Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
Established in 1964 as a migratory waterfowl refuge, Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for more than 220 species of birds, 45 species of mammals, and 22 species of fish. Wetlands, meadows, riparian forests and cultivated agricultural fields (for producing valuable wildlife food crops) are interspersed in the valley bottom adjacent to the west banks of the Kootenai River.
Wetlands include open-water ponds, seasonal cattail-bulrush marshes, tree-lined ponds and rushing creeks. The western portion of the refuge ascends the foothills of the scenic Selkirk Mountains which consists of dense stands of coniferous trees and tranquil riparian forests.
The refuge not only serves as valuable habitat for resident and migratory wildlife, but provides a nice stopping point for visitors to get out and enjoy some of the vast natural beauty Boundary County has to offer. The refuge offers all of the Big Six wildlife-dependent public uses which include hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education, and interpretation. The refuge has a 4.5 mile auto tour route and four hiking trails. No fees are charged to the public.
Kootenai NWR provides numerous recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. People enjoy viewing the unique geology and diverse wildlife, whether driving or hiking. Regulation of recreation activities allow for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats.