Frequently Asked Questions

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  • How did Pea Island get it's name?

    For many years, Pea Island wintered 80% of the entire opoulation of greater snow geese each year.  One of the things that attracted them to Pea Island was the Dune Peas, legumes that gre in abundance on the refuge and produces beans/peas that were full of energy to help the birds get through the winter  and prepare to migrate in the spring.  So, for these geese, the Refuge was literally the "Pea Island!"   The large aceages of farmlands in Currituck, Hyde and Tyrrell Counties provide winter food for most of these geese today, but some of them still come to Pea Island.

  • Why are dogs and other pets not allowed west of the highway, even if they are leashed??

    Our managed impoundments are located between NC Highway 12 and Pamlico Sound.  These areas provide important habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds year round.  We allow public access arounf North Pond.  The other two ponds, South and New Field, are set-aside as closed areas to eliminate/reduce disturbance.  Pets, even on leashes, disturb birds, so we restrict pets to the beach/dune areas.... and they must be leashed.

  • Why are fishing, crabbing, boating, swimming, etc NOT allowed in the ponds?

    The ponds are man-made impoundments, especially built and managed for waterfowl and other migratory birds.  We allow public access ONLY to view or photograph wildlife.  All other activities are prohibited in these areas.

  • Where/what is the shipwreck on Pea Island?

    The Oriental wreck is located just across the dune from the Pea Island Visitor Center.  Stop by the visitor Center to grab info on this wreck.  It can be seen from the beach at low tide.  Some brave snorkelers/divers swim out from the beach to dive around the wreck, but the area is right in the surf zone, and currents can be trecherous.  We don't recommend it!

  • Why is only one pond open for public access?

    North Pond is larger than the other two ponds and has associated parking areas.  When management decided that waterfowl and other magratory birds needed more protection from disturbance, a decision was made to close South Pond and New Field.  This effectively closes about half of our managed areas for resting/loafing/feeding.  We schedule guided birding trips occasionally, as South Pond is a popular birding spot.

  • Where may I park on Pea Island?

    The Refuge has limited parking areas that are open to public parking.  The public often parks on the road shoulders, within the NC Highway 12 right-of-way.  However, many places along the road shoulders have soft sand, and vehicles tend to get stuck.  Also, traffic moves at high speeds, so motorist should use great care, especially when exiting and entering their vehicles.

  • Why is beach driving not allowed on the refuge?

    Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is a part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore; however, it is owned and managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Service's mission is WILDLIFE FIRST.  Pea Island's beaches are closed as sanctuary areas for migrating, nesting, and wintering wildlife, especially migratory birds and threatened/endangered species, like sea turtles.

  • Where may I access the sound for launching a canoe, kayak, or motorboat?

    Unfortunately, New Inlet Boat Access parking area is included in a current Special Use Permit for NCDOT to accomplish needed highway maintenance through Pea Island.  As the NCDOT needs ebb abd flow, New Inlet may be open off and on for boating access.  However, NCDOT contracts will dictate closure when needed.

    For smaller boats (kayaks, canoes, etc) that can be carried short distances (25-50 yards). visitors may access the sound on the north end of the Refuge near the Bonner Bridge.  However, tides and currents can be dangerous.