Resource Management

Little blue heron

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge was established to ensure the well-being of nationally endangered and threatened species, to conserve an undisturbed beach/dune ecosystem which includes a diversity of fish and wildlife, and their habitat, to serve as a living laboratory for scientists and students and to provide wildlife-oriented recreation for the public. Management at Bon Secour is aimed at protecting and preserving these unique habitats and associated wildlife for generations to come.

Refuge staff use a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. Inventory and monitoring, prescribed fire, invasive species control, and standardized wildlife and vegetation surveys are conducted at Bon Secour throughout the year to inventory populations, document habitat use, and manage habitats.


Invasive Species Control

In recent years, invasive, exotic plants have become a serious threat to national wildlife refuges throughout the United States. Many of these plants reproduce rapidly, have few predators, and have low food value for wildlife. Exotic plant management is an ongoing activity. The control or prevention of invasive plants that otherwise would take over valuable habitat areas is vital to the survival and existence of native plant and wildlife species. In efforts to combat these noxious, invasive plants, chemical and mechanical control of Chinese tallow tree, cogon grass, and torpedo grass is conducted on the refuge.    

Prescribed Fire

Fire has always played an important role in the coastal ecosystem. Historically, lightning-ignited fires burned vast acres of maritime forest until they reached large bodies of water or were extinguished by rainfall. Today, the refuge conducts prescribed burns, which are smaller and less intense than most wildfires, to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires to people and property.

Because fire is a natural part of the ecosystem, prescribed burns also create conditions favored by many species of native plants and wildlife. Fire reduces the density of vegetation in the mid- and understory which allows more sunlight to reach the forest floor. As a result, grasses and other early successional plant species can germinate and contribute to the diversity of available food for wildlife. At any given time, only a small portion of the refuge’s 7,000 acres have been recently burned so migratory birds and other wildlife can use a variety of habitats in different stages to fulfill their needs.


Trapping Occurs on this Refuge

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 for 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 on trapping within the National Wildlife Refuge System.