National Wildlife Refuge
|100 Conservation Way
Manteo, NC 27954
Phone Number: 252-473-1131
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Alligator River NWR is home to a diverse group of wildlife, including red wolves, black bear, American alligators, waterfowl, wading birds, and song birds.|
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was established on March 14, 1984. It contains 152,195 acres which lie on the mainland portions of Dare and Hyde Counties, North Carolina. The Refuge is roughly 28 miles from north to south and 15 miles from east to west. It is bordered on the west by the Alligator River and the Intracoastal Waterway; on the north by Albemarle Sound; on the east by Croatan and Pamlico Sounds; and on the south by Long Shoal River and corporate farmland.
Alligator River Refuge was established to preserve and protect a unique wetland habitat type - the pocosin - and its associated wildlife species. The diversity of habitat types include high and low pocosin, bogs, fresh and brackish water marshes, hardwood swamps, and Atlantic white cedar swamps. Considered among the last remaining strongholds for black bear in eastern North Carolina and on the mid-Atlantic Coast, the Refuge also provides valuable habitat for concentrations of ducks, geese, and swans; wading birds, shorebirds, American woodcock, raptors, American alligators, white-tailed deer, raccoons, rabbits, quail, river otters, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and migrating songbirds. It serves as the core area for re-establishing the red wolf back into the wild.
Getting There . . .
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is located on the mainland of Dare and Hyde Counties, 15 miles west of Manteo, North Carolina. The Refuge Administrative Office is located on Roanoke Island (in Manteo) on U.S. Highway 64. To reach the Refuge, take U.S. Highway 64 west from Manteo, cross the Croatan Sound onto mainland Dare County, and continue west to the Refuge entrance. Signs direct visitors to the Refuge Field Headquarters, Creef Cut Wildlife Trail, and Buffalo City Road. Manteo is serviced by the Norfolk International Airport (2 hour drive north) and Raleigh-Durham International Airport (4 hour drive west).
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The role of management is significant on this Refuge. Before man began altering the environment, nature provided processes to recycle nutrients and provide a network of living spaces to meet the needs of a variety of wildlife. Wildfires caused by lightning provided diverse habitats, which provided homes for many species. Man's biggest impact on wetland habitats has been the long-term tendency to ditch and drain. Changing the hydrology of the entire system impacted every part of that system. Peat soils were meant to hold water. Besides the subtle impacts on the species that were dependent on the original water regime, draining these peat soils caused a tremendous fire hazard. Fires that burn in the drained pocosins are very difficult to control. Without raising the water table for the entire area, firefighters are helpless to control these fires, which can burn underground for miles.
-Hydrological Restoration- One Refuge objective is to restore historical water levels on the Refuge. Not only will this reduce fire danger, it will re-establish valuable wildlife habitat.
-Moist Soil Management- A 5,100-acre agricultural area was added to the Refuge several years after its establishment. This farmland offered a turnkey operation for waterfowl management. Currently, the area is divided into moist soil management units, agricultural lands farmed by cooperative farmers, and permanent or semi-permanent water areas. Again, by providing diverse habitats, the Refuge provides for many different wildlife species.
-Wildlife Censuses and Inventories - A number of census programs are in place to monitor various wildlife populations ranging from American alligators to neotropical migrant birds (songbirds, etc.).
-Fire Management- Both wildfire suppression and an active prescribed burning program play a vital role in the overall management of this Refuge.
-Special Studies- In cooperation with universities, special studies are sometimes conducted on the Refuge. Examples include monitoring and evaluating the black bear population and evaluating the effects of agricultural practices on quail populations. The Refuge encourages outside entities to propose wildlife research projects on Refuge lands. Selected projects must benefit the Refuge, as well as provide needed information on wildlife populations or habitats.