Frequently Asked Questions

Barred Owl at Alligator River w512

Everything you ever wanted to know about Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.  If you don't find the answer here, please email your question to and we'll add your question and the answer to this list!

  • Where can I find basic details about the refuge?

    This website has plenty of information.  And there is a search tool that will help you find the information you desire.

  • Are there really alligators?

    Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is in the near northern part of the range for the American Alligator.  However, alligators do live in areas north of the refuge.  It appears their range is expanding a bit futher north over time.  They do live in our waterways, but are rare and shy of people. 

  • Where can I see alligators?

    They are most commonly found in the Alligator River, and are known to live in Milltail Creek, Sawyer Lake, and many of the broader canals throughout the refuge. 

  • Where can I see bears?

    Bears may be found throughout our refuge but tend to be easier to spot in many of the open fielded areas along our Wildlife Drive. On warmer days larger bears are more common in early morning and late evening. 

  • Where are the best places to bird?

    Birding really depends on the species you seek.  Differnt types of birds hang out in different areas.  Try our "birds" page for hints on where to look.

  • What kinds of animals can I generally see when visiting the refuge?

    The refuge is home to a wide diversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Some include: songbirds, shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl, bears, deer, bobcat, river otter, various species of turtle, fox, alligator, frogs, raccoon and opossum. 

  • Are there snakes on the refuge?

    Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is home to a large variety of snakes. There are plenty of non-venomous species ranging from rat snakes to water snakes, and only 3 common venomous species including the Water Moccasin(Cotton Mouth), Copperhead, and Timber Rattlesnake. 

  • What is planted in the fields on the refuge?

    Primary crops are corn and soybeans.  But cooperative farmers also plant Lespedeza, sorghum, sunflowers, and other crops, as well.

  • What is a Geocache?

    Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor location hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache container hidden at that location.

    On Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge you are directed into different refuge habitats to give you a variety of experiences. When you reach a designated Geocache location you will find a container which houses a unique embossing tool. There you are able to emboss your pre-printed master list (Habitat Geocache Adventure card) in order to prove you made it to a particular habitat location. Gather 10 embossed stamps on your list and earn a prize.

    Go to this location to print off your Habitat Geocache Adventure Card

  • Is fishing allowed on the refuge?

    Yes, but a North Carolina Inland Fishing License is required. 

  • Where can I find out information on any of the programs offered?

    Visit our Interpretation page on this site!

  • Are there public boat ramps on the refuge?

    There are several places on the refuge where a shallow-draft boat may be launched... or a canoe or kayak.  The south end of Buffalo City Road is a popular spot, as well as the put-in at the intersection of Milltail Creek and Milltail Road.  A third is located at the north end of Deep Bay Road.  See the refuge map for these locations, as well as public boat ramps maintained by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission located adjacent to the refuge.

  • Are there invasive species in the area?

    From the Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan:

    Severe Threat
     Common Reed (Phragmites australis) 
    Alligatorweed (Altermanthera philoxeroides)
     Mimosa (Albizia julibrizzin) 
    Sericea Lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) 
    Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)   

    Significant Threat 
    Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
     Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense)   

    Lesser Threat 
    Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
     Foxtail (Setaria faberi)   

    Watch List 
    Chinaberry (Melia azedarach) 

  • How tolerable are the insects?

    Depending on the time of year and recent rain, insects can be a serious deterrent to outdoor activities on the Refuge.  We always recommend you dress for the outdoors and bring insect repellent.  But, if it's a windy day, that often takes care of the problem!

  • What kind of habitats are featured in Alligator River R?

    From the Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan:  
    Natural Habitats
    Pond Pine Shrub Pocosin 
    Mixed Pine Hardwood Forest 
    High Shrub Pocosin 
    Brackish Marsh 
    Mixed Hardwood Swamp 
    Cypress-Gum Swamp 
    Shrub Marsh Transition 
    Atlantic White Cedar Forest
     Pond Pine Cane Pocosin 
    Low Shrub Pocosin 
    Loblolly Pine Forest 
    Freshwater Pools, Ponds, and Creeks
    Non-Alluvial Hardwood Forest
    Bay Forest  

    Man-Made Habitats  
     Administrative Areas 
    Managed Wetlands 

  • What is the emblem bird pictured on many signs around the refuge?

    The BLUE GOOSE is the symbol for the National Wildlife Refuge System.  The logo was designed by J. N. "Ding" Darling, a popular cartoonist and winner of the first Duck Stamp Contest.  The bird was roughly patterned after the Canada Goose and does not resemble the Blue Goose that is a color phase of the Snow Goose.

  • How can I get involved?

    There are several ways to help your national wildlife refuges.

    One way is to volunteer your time. Volunteers give an amazing amount of time and work towards the running and maintaining refuges. You light help behind the counters at the visitor centers, giving our directions and information to visitors. You might be a retired educator and would like to assist with monthly visits to local classrooms to help get kids involved with wildlife and wild habitat. You might help maintain the visitor trails and visitor center grounds. There are many other ways to physically help support your refuges. All of this is managed through the volunteer coordinator, Tracey Rock. contact her at: 252-473-1132 X 227 or

    Another way you can get involved is by donating. Donations help support refuge projects. Paddling docks, refuge informational kiosks, a portable photo blind...these are just a few of the many projects that donations have helped fund. You may mail a check or money order, donate on-line, or call in a odnation. Support is handled by the non-profit refuge friends group, Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society  P.O. Box 1808 Manteo, NC 27954 or go to Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society website to use your credit card. Or, 252-216-9464.


  • Are your facilities accessible by wheelchair?

    National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center was built to be wheelchair compatible.

  • Does the refuge have feral pigs?

    Neither Alligator River or Pea Island Refuges currently have feral pigs.

  • What are the most common predatory birds I can expect to see on the refuge?

    Bald Eagle, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shoulder Hawk, Merlin, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, Short-eared Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon and both Black and Turkey Vultures. And, less common are: Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Swainson's Hawk and Rough-legged Hawk.