Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you manage for wildlife on the refuge when the Air Force and the Navy are conducting maneuvers nearby?
Though direct impacts to wildlife, such as death or physical injury, are rare, there may be indirect impacts as a result of the noise levels or other effects. Within the 152,195-acre refuge, there is a 47,000-acre bombing range where both the Air Force and the Navy conduct aerial training maneuvers. To compensate for any negative effects these activities may have on refuge wildlife, the Department Of Defense (DoD) has provided extra funding for many wildlife and public use programs. DoD has funded black bear and Atlantic white cedar research and has contributed to the funding of routine surveys and management for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, threatened American alligators, white-tailed deer, and other species. It has also partnered on several major public use projects, including Creef Cut Wildlife Trail and two travelers¹ advisory AM radio stations.

Why do you start fires on the refuge?
Fire is a natural process. Much of the refuge is pocosin habitat which typically has a natural fire cycle of 3 to 7 years. Native Americans were known to set fires to aid in hunting game and to promote better access to the woods and marshes. Frequent fires had the effect of pruning back the thickets of shrubs and canes; consuming accumulations of dead grasses, pine litter, and woody debris; and recycling nutrients into the soil. The results were more open conditions in the marshes and woodlands and very diverse and productive wildlife habitats. FWS "starts fires on the refuge" to reduce hazardous fuel conditions and to mimic the natural fires of the past. Many plant species, such as pond pine, are fire dependent and need fire to reseed and maintain a healthy stand. The FWS fires are accomplished under "prescribed" conditions in which they can be managed safely to burn out the accumulation of forest litter and shrubs.

Why is the Fish and Wildlife Service introducing the red wolf, a predator, into eastern North Carolina?
The endangered red wolf once ranged throughout the Southeast, but now is threatened with extinction. By 1970, fewer than 100 individuals remained in the wild in Texas and Louisiana. Eastern North Carolina was once part of the red wolf¹s historic habitat, and may again be able to provide the conditions necessary for its survival. At present, in 2008, there are over 100 red wolves in the wild in North Carolina. Also, if mega fauna, such as wolves, are able to survive and reproduce within an ecosystem, that provides us with an excellent indication of environmental quality. Predators, like the red wolf, help maintain balance in an ecosystem by controlling populations of prey species and removing unhealthy animals.

Where can I go to see a wolf or bear?
The chances of seeing a wolf are slim. During some seasons, bear may be observed with some regularity. Weekly, during the summer, a guided ³Sunset Tour² begins at Creef Cut Trailhead on U.S. 64 in East Lake. Participants receive an orientation to the refuge and its management programs, a walk along Creef Cut Trail, and an opportunity to drive along the refuge farmfield roads to see black bears, owls, and other wildlife. A ride down Milltail Road near sunset will often produce bear sightings.

When's the best time to visit Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge?
The refuge is open year round during daylight hours. Any time of the year is good for a visit, but each season offers different rewards, as well as obstacles. During summer, young of all species abound; however, you have to deal with the heat, humidity, bugs, and poisonous snakes! The water and weather is warm, so paddling and other water associated activities can be enjoyed with less concern for getting wet! Spring offers wildflowers and new growth of all kinds, including the birth of everything from red wolf pups and bear cubs to neotropical warblers. During winter, Alligator River is home to thousands of wintering waterfowl and other migratory birds. And, during the fall months, some of the bugs and snakes depart to places unknown, making a visit less stressful!
Last Updated: <5/2/13