National Wildlife Refuge
|91 US Hwy 641N
Benton KY , KY 42025
Phone Number: 270-527-5770
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|The wetland ecosystem of the Clarks River NWR consists of cypress sloughs and bottomland hardwood habitats.|
Continued . . . The East Fork of the Clarks River was selected as the site for a National Wildlife Refuge in large part based on location. Proximity to the confluence of the Cumberland, Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers; the geographical relationship to other managed lands in the region, and the varied habitat types contributes significantly to diversity of wildlife found on the refuge. Although the management of waterfowl was the driving force behind the initial establishment proposal, the area which is now the refuge was recognized for its multipurpose wildlife conservation potential.
Important game species include big game (white-tailed deer, eastern wild turkey), upland game (gray and fox squirrels, eastern cottontail and swamp rabbits, raccoon, opossum, quail, coyote), and migratory birds (ducks, coots, geese, woodcock, snipe, dove, crow). The hunting or trapping of bobcat, river otter, beaver and mink is not allowed.
The refuge is located in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture area and provides breeding and wintering habitat for 18 species of waterfowl. Wood ducks are probably the most common species utilizing the refuge. Others commonly observed, but present in lesser numbers, include Canada geese, gadwall, mallards, northern pintail, northern shoveler, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, and hooded mergansers.
The refuge is located in the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), Central Hardwoods Bird Conservation Region and serves as breeding, wintering, and migratory habitat for numerous species of migratory birds of concern including 36 of 135 species (27 percent) on the NABCI national list and 27 of 30 (90 percent) on the central hardwood regional list. The refuge provides seasonal habitat for species like the imperiled cerulean warbler, Swainson's warbler, and Prothonotary warbler. These three species are among the Service's five highest priority migratory songbirds which are dependent upon forested wetlands.
Comprehensive lists of flora and fauna present on the refuge are being compiled. A wildflower survey has catalogued 130 species and the final list is expected to top 200. The refuge bird list includes approximately 200 species and one or two new birds are added each year. Over 50 species of reptiles and amphibians may be present. So far 30 have been confirmed including one snake and one salamander not expected to occur here. River surveys have documented 54 species of fish; primarily darters, mad toms and minnows, and 24 species of freshwater mollusks. The Commonwealth of Kentucky lists one darter as threatened and two freshwater mollusks as endangered.
The refuge is located within the historic ranges of three species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered; the American burying beetle, the Indiana bat, and the gray bat. The American burying beetle has not been seen in western Kentucky since the early 1970s. Both the Indiana bat and the gray bat are likely present but surveys are needed to confirm the presence or absence of these species.
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