Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was established on March 14, 1984, to preserve and protect a unique wetland habitat type—the pocosin
Pocosin is a term for a type of palustrine wetland with deep, acidic, sandy, peat soils. Groundwater saturates the soil except during brief seasonal dry spells and during prolonged droughts...

—and its associated wildlife species.
The Refuge attracts visitors worldwide for its red wolf howling programs.


The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is composed of 152,000 acres (615 km²) lying in the mainland portions of Dare
Dare County, North Carolina
-National protected areas:* Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge * Cape Hatteras National Seashore * Fort Raleigh National Historic Site* Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge* Wright Brothers National Memorial-Demographics:...

 and Hyde
Hyde County, North Carolina
-National protected areas:* Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge * Cape Hatteras National Seashore * Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge* Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge * Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge-Demographics:...

 Counties, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

It is roughly 28 miles (45 km) from north to south and 15 miles (24 km) from east to west and lies in North Carolina's Coastal Plain. It is bordered on the west by the Alligator River
Alligator River (North Carolina)
The Alligator River is a small river in eastern North Carolina, USA, separating Dare County with Tyrrell County. It is a tributary of the Albemarle Sound and is part of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The Lindsey C. Warren Bridge of U.S. Route 64 crosses the river.A 21-mile canal...

 and the Intracoastal Waterway
Intracoastal Waterway
The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Some lengths consist of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, bays, and sounds; others are artificial canals...

, which is crossed by the 2.8 mile Lindsay C. Warren bridge; on the north by Albemarle Sound
Albemarle Sound
Albemarle Sound is a large estuary on the coast of North Carolina in the United States located at the confluence of a group of rivers, including the Chowan and Roanoke. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Outer Banks, a long barrier peninsula upon which the town of Kitty Hawk is located,...

; on the east by Croatan and Pamlico Sound
Pamlico Sound
Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, is the largest lagoon along the U.S. East Coast, being long and 24 to 48 km wide. It is a body of water separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Outer Banks, a row of low, sandy barrier islands, including Cape Hatteras. The Neuse and Pamlico rivers flow in...

s; and on the south by Long Shoal River and corporate farmland. The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge located on the north end of North Carolina's Hatteras Island, a coastal barrier island and part of a chain of islands known as the Outer Banks, adjacent to Cape Hatteras National Seashore...

 is administered as a part of complex. Alligator River Manager supervises the Mackay Island, Currituck, and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Managers.

Role of the Refuge

The Refuge serves as a gateway to other eastern North Carolina refuges, encouraging visitors to venture inland into the counties with fewer economic advantages.

Natural history

The habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

 includes many diverse types including high and low pocosin, bogs, fresh and brackish water marshes, hardwood
Hardwood is wood from angiosperm trees . It may also be used for those trees themselves: these are usually broad-leaved; in temperate and boreal latitudes they are mostly deciduous, but in tropics and subtropics mostly evergreen.Hardwood contrasts with softwood...

 swamps, and Atlantic White Cypress
Chamaecyparis thyoides
Chamaecyparis thyoides , is a species of Chamaecyparis, native to the Atlantic coast of North America from Maine south to Georgia, with a disjunct population on the Mexican Gulf coast from Florida to Mississippi...

 swamps. Plant species include pitcher plants and sun dews, low bush cranberries
Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium. In some methods of classification, Oxycoccus is regarded as a genus in its own right...

, Redbay
Persea is a genus of about 150 species of evergreen trees belonging to the laurel family, Lauraceae. The best-known member of the genus is the avocado, P. americana, widely cultivated in subtropical regions for its large, edible fruit.-Overview:...

, Atlantic White Cypress, Pond Pine
Pond Pine
Pinus serotina is a tree found along the Atlantic coastal plain of the eastern United States, from southern New Jersey south to Florida and west to southern Alabama...

, American Sweetgum
American Sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua, commonly called the American sweetgum, sweet-gum, alligator-wood, American-storax, bilsted, red-gum, satin-walnut, or star-leaved gum, is a deciduous tree in the genus Liquidambar native to warm temperate areas of eastern North America and tropical montane regions of Mexico...

, Red Maple
Red Maple
Acer rubrum , is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees of eastern North America. It ranges from the Lake of the Woods on the border between Ontario and Minnesota, east to Newfoundland, south to near Miami, Florida, and southwest to east Texas...

, and a wide variety of herbaceous
A herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level. They have no persistent woody stem above ground...

 and shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

 species common to the East Coast.

The Refuge is one of the premier strongholds for American Black Bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

 on the Eastern Seaboard
Eastern seaboard
An Eastern seaboard can mean any easternmost part of a continent, or its countries, states and/or cities.Eastern seaboard may also refer to:* East Coast of Australia* East Coast of the United States* Eastern Seaboard of Thailand-See also:...

It also has concentrations of duck
Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered...

s, geese, and swan
Swans, genus Cygnus, are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae...

s. The wildlife diversity includes wading birds, shorebirds, American Woodcock
American Woodcock
The American Woodcock , sometimes colloquially referred to as the Timberdoodle, is a small chunky shorebird species found primarily in the eastern half of North America...

, raptor
Bird of prey
Birds of prey are birds that hunt for food primarily on the wing, using their keen senses, especially vision. They are defined as birds that primarily hunt vertebrates, including other birds. Their talons and beaks tend to be relatively large, powerful and adapted for tearing and/or piercing flesh....

s, American Black Bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

s, American Alligator
American Alligator
The American alligator , sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator, is a reptile endemic only to the Southeastern United States. It is one of the two living species of alligator, in the genus Alligator, within the family Alligatoridae...

s, White-tailed Deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

, Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

s, Cottontail rabbit
Cottontail rabbit
The cottontail rabbits are among the 16 lagomorph species in the genus Sylvilagus, found in the Americas.In appearance, most cottontail rabbits closely resemble the wild European Rabbit...

s, Bobwhite Quail
Bobwhite Quail
The Northern Bobwhite, Virginia Quail or Bobwhite Quail is a ground-dwelling bird native to the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean...

, Northern River Otter
Northern River Otter
The North American river otter , also known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent, found in and along its waterways and coasts. An adult river otter can weigh between 5 and 14 kg...

s, Red Wolves
Red Wolf
The red wolf is a North American canid which once roamed throughout the Southeastern United States and is a glacial period survivor of the Late Pleistocene epoch...

, Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a woodpecker found in southeastern North America.- Description :About the size of the Northern Cardinal, it is approximately 8.5 in. long, with a wingspan of about 14 in. and a weight of about 1.5 ounces...

s, and neotropical migrants.

Refuge objectives

Refuge objectives are to protect and preserve unique wetland habitat types and the associated wildlife species, including endangered species such as red wolves, red-cockaded woodpeckers and American alligators. It also aims to provide a habitat for and management of waterfowl and other migratory birds, as well as for a wide variety of native wildlife species, through diverse wildlife management techniques and strategies.

An important objective is the restoration of historical water levels in the Refuge by progressively plugging man-made drainage ditches. This will reduce fire danger as well as re-establish valuable wildlife habitat.

The Refuge also provides for the public opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife interpretation, observation, photography, and environmental education.


A 33-person staff (14 Refuge staff,for both Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges, 7 Red Wolf Recovery staff, 8 fire staff, and 4 temporary staff) administer the Refuge for the 42,000 visitors who annually visit.
The current budget (FY 03) is $3.9 million.

External links

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