Resource Management

Young Brown Pelicans sitting in shrubs on Breton Island

Breton National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1904 by an executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt. Breton is second refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the only one visited by the "Conservation President." The Refuge is managed to provide sanctuary for nesting and wintering seabirds, to protect and preserve the wilderness character of the islands, and provide sandy beach habitat for a variety of wildlife species.


To accomplish these management objectives refuge staff monitor wildlife resources and environmental conditions, manage visitor use, and respond to environmental challenges. Recent management has involved working with partners to respond to the problems created by storm damages and oil spills effecting the islands.

Several hurricanes, including the devastating hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005 took a toll on the Refuges' landmass and wildlife populations. It would take many years for the islands to recover naturally (if ever) so the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) initiated small scale projects like sandfencing, berms, sediment deposit to build land, and revegetation to help restore habitat on the islands. We are monitoring the brown pelicans and other birds that return to nest on the islands to document their responses and population trends. 

The islands of Breton NWR (except for North Breton Island) were designated as the Breton Wilderness, part of the National Wilderness System, in 1975. North Breton Island was excluded because an oil facility (now gone) was located on that island. As Wilderness, the islands are managed to retain their relatively wild and untrammeled nature.

When Theodore Roosevelt visited Louisiana in 1915 he wrote. "There is a good chance...that the fish and game will be preserved for use instead of recklessly exterminated; for during the last dozen years Louisiana and Mississippi, like the rest of the Union, have waked to the criminality of marring and ruining a beautiful heritage which should be left, and through wise use (not non-use) can be left, undiminished, to the generations that are to come after us." Using collaborative science-based management the FWS supports Roosevelt's vision of natural resources that continue to be used and enjoyed by future generations.