American Alligator -long X512

The purpose of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is to conserve the wetlands that comprise the refuge and the wildlife that reside in those wetlands. 

That conservation includes protecting the refuge resources with law enforcement efforts and preparing for wildfires by maintaining firebreaks, fire-fighting equipment, and a well-trained staff of firefighters. The active conservation revolves around prescribed burning in marshes and pine forests to mimic natural fire cycles, while conducting the burns under controlled conditions. The fires not only maintain habitat in optimum condition for all species of wildlife, but protect local towns and highways from fire and smoke. Staff manage moist soil vegetation units by managing water levels, monitoring vegetation, and disking to ensure that the needs of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds are met. The cropland areas have both crops and filter strips of native grasses and wildflowers. The cropland is maintained by cooperative farmers who leave a share of the crop in the field for wildlife. The filter strips provide habitat for early birds and mammals such as bobwhite quail and eastern cottontail rabbits. Those birds and mammals supply prey for hawks, owls, foxes, and red wolves. Vegetation in the filter strips is managed with prescribed burning and mowing. Most of the refuge is wetland-forest habitat that is not actively managed, but provides adequate habitat without intensive management.