Wildlife and Habitat - General Information

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 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the premier government agency dedicated to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats. The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 outlined the fundamental wildlife conservation mission of the Refuge System, described as ‘wildlife first’.  At Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, the fish and wildlife species and the habitats are closely connected to each other and the soils, shallow water tables, and flooding frequency on the refuge. The different wetland habitats on the refuge support different suites of wildlife species. Some species, such as black bear, white-tailed deer, and red wolves, range over the entire refuge. Other species, such as the secretive marsh birds, are very particular about residing exclusively in brackish marshes. Most waterfowl species and shorebirds only reside in the refuge’s marshes and most soil vegetation units during migration although wood ducks are permanent residents of the refuge’s flooded forests. Neotropical migratory songbirds breed in the refuge forests in the spring and migrate to the West Indies and Central and South America for the winter. Raptors such as hawks and owls hunt the roadsides, crop fields, and filter strips searching for their prey. Ospreys and bald eagles nest in the tops of trees that have been killed by lightning and are located near open water so they can catch fish close to their nests.