In the southwest corner of the Reserve, in the shadow of the Brooks Range, lays a lush grassland ecosystem – calving grounds and insect relief for the 201,000+ Western Arctic Caribou Herd, although its numbers have been in decline. Here you’ll also find the highest concentration of grizzly bears in the Arctic, as well as large populations of moose, wolves and wolverines. Many Pacific golden plovers who nest in this area migrate to Hawaii, but their migration can extend all the way to New Zealand.
More than forty villages across the northwest Arctic and Norton Sound region rely on the Western Arctic Caribou Herd as a subsistence resource. The area is home to the Utukok River, a 225-mile long waterway that empties into Kasegaluk Lagoon and the Chukchi Sea. The Utukok River Uplands Special Area is the largest of the five special areas at approximately four million acres, or about 22% of the Reserve.