Newsroom Midwest Region

Celebrating the future and appreciating the past

Missouri migration hotspot turns 55

August 14, 2019

Waterfowl taking flight from the river.
Waterfowl taking flight from the river. Photo by USFWS.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are celebrating Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri, which was established 55 years ago this week. Take a moment to learn more about this extensive refuge and plan a trip to experience it yourself.

Named in honor of Congressman Clarence Cannon who was influential in the establishment of the refuge, Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge was created on August 11,1964 with funds from the purchase of the Federal Duck Stamp, formally known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. Centrally located along the Mississippi Flyway, a major route for migrating birds, the refuge was established to provide essential habitat for birds to rest and feed.

The refuge is located within Pike County, about one mile east of the small town of Annada, Missouri. Comprised of managed moist soil units, open water, wet meadows and bottomland forest habitats, the refuge includes 3,750 acres of Mississippi River floodplain.

Visiting the refuge can be an excellent opportunity to see wildlife. More than 250 bird species visit throughout the year. October and November are the best months to see large concentrations of waterfowl, including hundreds of thousands of dabbling ducks. During migration mallards generally outnumber other duck species on the refuge by three to one, but you’re also likely to see American wigeons, black ducks, blue-winged teal, gadwalls, green-winged teal, northern pintails and northern shovelers.

National wildlife refuges provide unique opportunities to view and photograph wildlife. Visit Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge in the winter to see bald eagles as they gather near the river to feed in open water areas. In the summer, herons and egrets are commonly seen feeding in refuge wetlands. Deer, squirrel, raccoon, muskrat, turkey, beaver, skunk and opossum are year-round residents, but are not always easy to spot. River banks are a good place to look for a variety of wildlife - from muskrats and beavers to turtles and frogs.

National wildlife refuges serve many purposes, and one of the most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach visitors about wildlife and natural resources. Environmental education programs and guided tours are available for schools, scouts and other groups. You can even check out a discovery backpack, scopes and binoculars - all for free!

Since 2010, the refuge has been hosting an annual deer hunt for sportswomen and men who have permanent mobility limitations or visual impairments. Each year, nine hunters are randomly selected to participate. Even if they don’t take a shot, hunters enjoy seeing wildlife and experiencing the beautiful fall landscape. For many, the experience is a success thanks to the camaraderie, support and appreciation for wildlife they share throughout the weekend.

Thanks for taking some time to learn about Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge as we mark 55 years of conservation, excellent recreation and fun adventures. Learn more about Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge and plan your trip!

Historic photo by USFWS.

Celebrating the Future and Appreciating the Past

This series of articles is inspired by the long history of land managers and biologists who protect, restore and conserve our National Wildlife Refuge System lands. As our midwest refuges reach milestone anniversaries, we will highlight what makes them special. Look for historic photos, lesser known biological and geological tidbits and reflections from the people who know them best - refuge field staff.

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