Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

March 21, 2013

Nesting Habitat Improvements Scheduled for Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Due to on-going work to repair the dike that was blown out during Hurricane Irene, a nesting habitat project on Pea Island that was logistically impossible for the Refuge to accomplish is now becoming a reality! Because managers have been unable to hold water in North Pond due to the dike damage and pump replacement, contractors now have a narrow window of time to reach a small island in North Pond with mowing equipment. The two-acre island was originally constructed for ground-nesting for black ducks, gadwalls, grassland species, and shorebirds many years ago. But, the vegetation has grown to a level that prevents these birds from using it for nesting. "The stars lined up for us on this one. The timing of the pump work makes it possible to remove the older, taller growth from this little island just in time for the ground-nesting species to use it this season, " said Deputy Refuge Manager Scott Lanier.

Irene's dike blow-out moved massive amounts of sand into North Pond adjacent to one of many small islands, and low water will enable equipment to reach the island. Once the small trees and large shrubs have been removed, managers anticipate fire may be used to keep the vegetation at a grassy state.

Refuge Managers believe this to be a win-win for nesting birds on Pea Island. There are lots of other areas that have grown up into trees and shrubs for the birds who nest in those habitats. This mowing project will really contribute to the quality and quantity of ground-nesting habitat on the refuge.

"So, if you see mowing activity on Pea Island in the next week, keep an eye on that site over the next few months to witness how productive it becomes for these ground-nesting birds. We're hoping to see lots of broods of black ducks and gadwalls this summer," added Lanier.