Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131
June 20, 2011
Pain’s Bay Wildfire Doesn’t Deter Exciting Programs on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Despite all the suppression work happening on the Pains Bay Fire, regular summer activities are on-going on both Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. More than a dozen guided programs are offered weekly ranging from canoe or tram tours to bird walks to red wolf howling safaris. A complete schedule of activities is available at http://www.fws.gov/alligatorriver/spec.html.
On a recent Thursday morning, a group of tram riders was treated to an assortment of wildlife sightings. A mother Black Bear with her two young cubs wandered through the crop fields. A small flock of Cattle Egret, along with a Great Egret, pecked their way through a field barely noticing the humans stopping to get a closer look with binoculars. One of the Cattle Egrets was actually lounging on its belly while preening! Turtles and dozens of dragonflies were also spotted along the route. All of these critters were oblivious to the Pain’s Bay Wildfire burning to the southeast of the Wildlife Drive at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.
Although many roads on the refuge are closed to the public due to the wildfire, the Creef Cut and Sandy Ridge Trails and all of the Wildlife Drive are open. Red Wolf Howlings, Bear Necessities programs, guided canoe and tram tours are operating as usual. Occasionally a program has been canceled due to dense smoke, but that has been a rare occurrence. Many visitors and local residents have been taking advantage of the wonderful viewing opportunities at the refuge. It’s possible that more wildlife is being spotted due to being displaced by the smoke and fire in the southeast corner of the refuge. Or it could be that such sightings are being reported more than previously. Either way, the refuge is definitely the place to be to enjoy nature.
One group at the Milltail Creek Paddling Trail was treated to a bobcat walking right past them as they listened to Intern Mike provide an orientation prior to the canoe tour! And one group spotted an alligator in the marsh right next to the Creef Cut Trail. Since wildlife is very unpredictable, there is no guarantee that you’ll see a bobcat or alligator, but the experience of gliding along the canals in a canoe or riding on an open-air tram is a great way to pass the time with family or friends. For Facebook users, updates on programs and other refuge-related information can be found on the Friends of Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge page. We welcome comments and photos from all our visitors.
Why not head out to the refuge to take advantage of the natural wonders around you? If you’re interested in reserving a spot on one of the canoe or tram tours or the Red Wolf Howlings, call 252-216-9464. For general program information, contact Visitor Services Specialist Cindy Heffley at 252-475-4180 or visit our website at http://www.fws.gov/alligatorriver.
Participants on a recent tram tour.
Photo credit: USFWS/Heffley.
Visitors learn about red wolves prior to “howling” with the captive red wolves.
Photo credit: USFWS/Sharp.
Mother Black Bear with two cubs on Buffalo City Road.
Photo credit: USFWS/Heffley.