Wildlife and Habitat
The historic Suwannee River, featured in the song by Stephen Foster, is home to many native species like whitetail deer, gray fox, otter, eagles, and the endangered salt marsh vole. At the Lower Suwannee NWR, wildlife comes first!
This area of North Florida has been logged-over at least seven times; pristine forests and swamps are no more. More recently, in the 20th century, commercially valued non-native pines planted in perfect rows, displaced slower growing native trees -- a detriment for native wildlife. Since 2003, the Forester has thinned non-native trees and replaced them with native long-leaf pines and wire grass; this is restoration.
The mammoth hollow trees, the natural habitat needed for some native species like the small Brazilian free tail bat no longer exist, so the Refuge built giant bat houses. Wildflowers, native herbaceous growth, and our pollinator garden encourage and benefit pollinators. Gopher tortoise are prized and catered-to by the planting of wire grass; the gopher's presences offers shelter to over 360 other small species. Refuge swamps provide habitat and feeding grounds for large critters like deer and gators; while snakes, newts, salamanders, and even fiddler crabs thrive there. Coyotes and bear are in the area, but are rarely seen by visitors.
Bob-cat, otter, fox, and Gulf coast minks are supported by the lands flanking the Suwannee River and the Gulf.