Important Bird Areas

Uganik Bay & Viekoda Bay

Alaska

This area mainly consists of two fjords (Uganik Bay and Viekoda Bay) divided by a large island (Uganik Island), and includes a series of smaller connected bays and coves. The largest seabird colony in the Shelikof Strait is located in the area, as well as a dozen other smaller colonies. The marine waters of the area support an abundance of euphausiids, capelin, sandlance, and juvenile herring, principal components in the diets of seabirds, along with substantial populations of benthic invertebrates, such as clams and mussels that sea ducks depend on. The rugged nature of the coastline provides foraging and breeding habitat for many avian species, and protection from strong winds and adverse weather conditions. Several species of conservation concern can be found either seasonally or year round in the area, including the Kittlitz?s Murrelet, Yellow-billed Loon, and Black Oystercatcher.

Ornithological Summary

This site has a resident population of 100-125 breeding pairs of Black Oystercatcher. The area also includes a total of 14 seabird colonies (8 listed in the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Seabird Colony Catalog and 6 unlisted). These colonies are home to the Black-legged Kittiwake, Glaucous-winged Gull, Tufted Puffin, Horned Puffin, Pelagic Cormorant, Red-faced Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Parakeet Auklet, and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel. The area also provides foraging and nesting habitat for Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Kittlitz?s Murrelet (nest located in headwaters of Uganik Bay, August 2006), Wandering Tattler, Surfbird, and other shorebird species. Wintering species include Glaucous-winged Gull, Mew Gull, Pelagic Cormorant, Red-faced Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Kittlitz?s Murrelet, Yellow-billed Loon, Red-throated Loon, plus notable populations of Black Scoter and Long-tailed Duck.

Conservation Issues

The greatest threats to avian populations in the area are likely to occur during the breeding season when most commercial fishing activity occurs. Specific threats during this period include entanglement in nets, disturbance from fishing and ecotourism activities, fuel spills, and subsistence harvest. Residential encroachment on seabird colonies in the vicinity of the Village Islands has also been increasing, adding to disturbance, increasing the possibilities of introduction of disease from pets, and habitat loss.

Ownership

Marine waters and tideland areas are owned by the state of Alaska. The majority of the land area on Kodiak Island is federally-owned, managed by the Fish & Wildlife Service as part of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, while the offshore islands and islets are part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. There are a number of private and native in-holdings, particularly around the Village Islands area, with one commercial seafood processing facility in the northeastern Arm of Uganik Bay. In addition to the private lands, there are approximately 20 cabin sites scattered throughout the area under Special Use Permits used to support commercial fishery operations.

Habitat

Uganik Bay and Viekoda Bay are deep fjords on the Shelikof Strait side of Kodiak Island, with maximum depths of 326m and 262m respectively. Rock and sand covered shorelines and points provide extensive habitat for small demersal fishes and benthic crustaceans which sustain considerable populations of sea ducks and other marine birds. In the inner bays, large shallow shelves with mud substrates provide extensive habitat for benthic invertebrates such as clams and mussels that are the primary food for numerous diving waterfowl. Due to the steep mountains and the convoluted shoreline, seabirds and waterfowl find shelter in the area from high winds and rough seas even in the worst winter storms.

Land Use

Primary use of the area centers on commercial fishing, with the fish processing facility, 20+ permitted fishing cabins, and many marine fishing vessels. Tourism activities are primarily recreational fishing, with hunting and wildlife viewing provided by 3 different guide operations located within the area. A small year-round residential population exists around the Village Islands, with several more permanent residences scattered around the area. Marine freighters and fishery support vessels transport fuel and other hazardous materials through this area.

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