Resource Management

Three Cranes

Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge was established for the protection and recovery of it's namesake, the Mississippi sandhill crane, and the restoration of the endangered wet pine savanna habitat. By restoring the wet pine savanna, the refuge provides ideal habitat for the cranes as well as many other species native to the Gulf Coast region. By using habitat management tools, such as prescribed burns, tracking and monitoring, and reintroduction, the refuge works to preserve and protect this unique natural resource for present and future generations.

  • Habitat Management

    Resource Management - Rx Fire

    Restoring the habitat to its previous open savanna state is a long-term program. Dense pine woods are unacceptable nesting and feeding habitat for cranes. Prescribed burning and mechanical clearing effectively maintains the open grasslands. Prescribed fire is a particularly efficient method of removing dense, shrubby vegetation without damaging the soil.

    Today, restored savannas encourage the growth of unique vegetation that once covered much of southern Jackson County. Plants such as sundews, club mosses, pitcher plants and orchids have become more abundant.

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  • Tracking and Monitoring

    Leg Band on MS Sandhill Crane

    Year round monitoring is conducted by biologists using field observations and tracking the birds with radio telemetry. Many birds on the refuge are outfitted with a radio transmitter. Using antenna equipment, biologists track the signal produced by the transmitter. 

    The cranes are also outfitted with colored leg bands. Band combinations are unique to this bird and allow the birds to be identified from a distance.

    The information obtained through monitoring and tracking is put in a refuge data base and provides clues to habitat use, nesting, survival rates, cause of mortality, and many other aspects of local crane life.

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  • Reintroduction

    Reintroduction of MS Sandhill Crane

    To enhance natural production, a captive breeding and release program for the cranes was begun in 1965. Eggs from wild parents were collected to form a captive breeding flock. Offspring from this flock have been released annually on the refuge as part of a restocking effort.

    The captive reared cranes are brought to the refuge in groups and released into the wild. This crane supplementation, the longest and largest in the world to date, has resulted in a population increase to over 100 individuals (up from only 30-35 in the 1960’s). Cranes continue to reproduce in the wild. 

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  • Trapping

    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.