Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131
October 2, 2009
Alligator River and Pea Island Refuges Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week
Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 12-18, by visiting Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. Take some time during this week to connect with nature in some of the wildest areas in eastern North Carolina. Bring your families and friends!
Protecting our natural lands and the abundant wildlife that are dependent on them is essential to the quality of American life - and Refuge Week is a perfect time to visit some of those wild lands.
Waterfowl migration is in full swing at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Come out and enjoy the variety of birds and other animals that depend on the refuge for their survival. Peregrine Falcons have returned. Take a leisurely walk on North Pond Wildlife Trail. Spend some time at the Pea Island Visitor Center learning about the refuge or just chatting with our friendly volunteers. Or hike over a dune trail and see the power of the ocean as pelicans and other birds slowly fly by.
If you’d rather explore the forests and fields of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, you’re sure to find an assortment of plants and wildlife ready to please your senses. Discover the beauty of the fall season on Creef Cut Wildlife Trail. Look for the magnificent Pileated Woodpecker on Sandy Ridge Wildlife Trail. You may be fortunate enough to see an alligator lounging in the sun if you watch closely from the Milltail Creek Overlook.
This year, Refuge Week also focuses on the health of the world’s birds − especially those that depend on refuge lands and waters for nesting, foraging, wintering or rest stops on their migration routes. Last spring a national report by the Department of the Interior credited conservation efforts over the past four decades with saving some species from extinction. The bald eagle and peregrine falcon are among them. However, the “State of the Birds” report noted major population drops for several other bird species, particularly along the coasts, in Hawaii and in the North, where 38 percent of Arctic nesting birds are thought to be in decline. Threats to birds include climate change, loss of habitat and disease.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans enjoying birding as a hobby is on the rise. More than 40 million Americans feed wild birds at home or travel to see them. National Wildlife Refuges − many of which were first established as bird sanctuaries − are finding new ways to encourage and support birding.
At Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, we’ve installed new scopes for visitors to use. If a visitor has forgotten to bring binoculars, they can be borrowed at the visitor center. Field guides are also available. Permanent viewers are located at various overlooks on the North Pond Trail near the Visitor Center.
“Birds are key indicators of our nation’s environmental health,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam Hamilton. “Their ability to survive is a measure of the quality of our air and water, the fertility of our soil, the abundance of our natural resources − factors on which human health also depend. National Wildlife Refuge Week is a perfect time to remember how interdependent all species are.”
There are 550 national wildlife refuges across the country, offering a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, hunting, environmental education, wildlife observation and photography. Many wildlife refuges also offer nature hikes, bird watching tours, wildlife drives and trails, and other adventures. Each year, about 40 million Americans discover the wonders of nature by visiting a wildlife refuge. There is at least one wildlife refuge in every state and one within an hour’s drive of most major cities.
Fall and winter are great times to view waterfowl on both Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. Northern Pintails, like these, show up by the thousands on eastern North Carolina national wildlife refuges. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis