Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 329
Columbia, North Carolina 27925

Contact: Howard Phillips- 252-796-3004 ext 226

News Release

October 28, 2010

New Waterfowl Viewing Opportunities available on Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Tundra Swans
Tundra swans loaf in flocks on Pungo Lake during the winter months. Newly designated observation points will allow viewing access during peak populations, however, disturbance will be monitored closely. Refuge Manager Howard Phillips reminds visitors to be respectful of the needs of wildlife. "Refuges are for 'Wildlife First'. This means if we document that visitors to these areas have an unacceptable impact on the wintering waterfowl, we'll need to close the areas. That's our job. But, we're hoping our visitors will appreciate the access enough to be very careful and avoid disturbing the birds." Photo Credit: USFWS.

Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge provides wintering habitat for thousands of ducks, geese and swans. Consequently, birders from near and far are attracted to see both the variety of birds and the amazing numbers in one place. Refuge Manager Howard Phillips recently announced the designation of two observation points to the lake. "We really want to provide a chance for our visitors to see these birds, so we've opened a couple of areas during this sensitive time for waterfowl. It is our hope that birders and photographers will be respectful of the need for a peaceful environment, so we can continue to allow this viewing access."

Each year, waterfowl and other migratory birds head south to warmer climates to find feeding and resting areas. They use this time to build their energy reserves in order to migrate north to the nesting grounds in the early spring to produce and rear their young. So, food and rest are the critical needs for wintering birds. Pungo Lake provides the resting space- safety from predators and shelter from disturbance. The surrounding wetlands and agricultural fields provide the food.

The newly designated Pungo Lake Observation Point will allow Refuge visitors the chance to get a closer look at the waterfowl and other migratory birds that winter on the refuge. The observation point is surrounded by vegetation and lined by wooden panels to provide a visual barrier. Visitors are required to maintain a low profile by staying out of sight and keeping quiet.

On the refuge, in general, leashed pets are allowed. However, pets are not allowed on the wildlife trail due to the disturbance factor to wildlife. The trail is for foot travel only, and all refuge, State, and Federal regulations apply. Feeding wildlife and littering are particularly damaging and absolutely prohibited.

Pungo Lake Observation Point is located on the south side of Pungo Lake and is accessible from Duck Pen Wildlife Trail. Visitors may also view wintering waterfowl flying to and from the lake at the south end of West Lake Road. The birds often feed in refuge agricultural fields. They may be viewed from the road, however, visitors may not enter in the fields.

South Lake Road, which was closed last year to vehicles, will be open this year if weather conditions permit. The North Lake Area will be closed again this year except on weekend mornings. The Smartweed and Jones Pond Moist Soil Units will continue to be closed. With the exception of the Observation Tower (by the Kuralt kiosk), the new Observation Point, and designated sites in the North Lake area, Pungo Lake is closed to visitors to prevent waterfowl disturbance.

In addition to spectacular waterfowl viewing, visitors are likely to see a variety of other wildlife, including black bear, birds of prey, and a variety of mammals and reptiles. North Carolina has one of the densest populations of black bear in the east. Look for wildlife signs, such as scat, tracks, and fur, in addition to seeing or hearing the actual creatures.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on refuge work and the opportunities for people to be involved, visit www.fws.gov/pocosinlakes or call 252-796-3004.

Pungo Unit Map
Map of Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge - click to enlarge.
Map Credit: USFWS.