Resource Management

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Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge habitat diversity results in a wide variety of wildlife living on and using the refuge. Wildlife includes many species typically found in bottomland hardwood forests. White-tailed deer and small mammals such as squirrels and raccoons can be seen throughout the refuge. Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge is becoming well known for large populations of bats living in the tree cavities. Eastern wild turkey sightings are becoming more frequent on the refuge and surrounding areas. Waterfowl such as mallards, shovelers, pintail, and teal use the refuge as a migratory stop during the winter months. Wood ducks call the refuge woodlands home throughout the year, nesting in both natural cavity trees and artificial nest boxes. In addition to mammals and waterfowl, Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for ibis, herons and egrets. These long-legged waders can be seen stalking small fish and large insects along the water’s edge. Osprey and swallow-tailed kites can occasionally be seen swooping down on prey in open waters and fields. The refuge also plays a role in providing much needed habitat for declining species of migratory songbirds such as Kentucky, Swainson’s, hooded and prothonatary warblers. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons can be observed usually during the winter months perched in high trees.

As late as the 1960’s, the Lower Mississippi River Valley consisted primarily of bottomland hardwood forests. Not until the early 1970s , which marked an era when the farm economy was at its peak, were the dense forests cut and cleared to give way to agricultural development and the high values on the soybean and cotton markets. Prime wildlife habitats and a valuable timber resource that supported wildlife such as neotropical songbirds and the Louisiana black bear were lost. Reforestation efforts are occurring all throughout the Lower Mississippi Valley, including Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge. Current refuge management strategies aim to restore major portions of the refuge with several hardwood species including oaks and bald cypress that grew before human intervention. It will take from 20 to 30 years or more for trees being planted today to restore the bottomland hardwoods to their former resource values as a home for wildlife. There are many benefits to reforestation efforts such as enhancing wildlife diversity as well as preventing loss of valuable soil as a result of wind and erosion.

Waterfowl Habitat Improvement:
One of the primary objectives of Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge is to enhance the potential of the refuge’s wetland areas to support migrating and wintering waterfowl. The ridge and swale topography of Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge produces interior flooding when it rains during the fall and winter months. Refuge management efforts include installing water control structures and culverts. Several of the low sites retaining water are managed for production of moist soil vegetation such as smartweed, common millet, sprangletop and rushes while other areas of the refuge are farmed. The farmers on the refuge are required to leave a portion of the crop unharvested or provide a wildlife food such as millet or buckwheat. The combination of natural and agricultural foods provides the nutrition and energy needed by wintering waterfowl and other wildlife using the refuge. Management activities include lowering the water level in waterfowl impoundments in the spring to provide feeding and resting areas for shorebirds and other migrant species.


Trapping Occurs on this Refuge

Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. On this refuge trapping occurs only as a wildlife management tool and is prohibited by the public. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations. Click here for more information.