Resource Management

Moosehorn wetlands - USFWS.

Moosehorn provides diverse habitats for wildlife -

  • Sub-boreal and northern hardwood forests
  • Grasslands and blueberry fields
  • Freshwater marshes and ponds
  • Rocky marine coastline

Historically, Maine's forests were occasionally cleared by agriculture and wildfires. Moosehorn's forest management plan seeks to mimic that process through timber harvest and controlled burns.

Moosehorn's forests are strategically harvested to create clearings, alder thickets, and young forests in close proximity to each other. These areas provide the diverse forest types needed by the American woodcock, and benefit many wildlife species including bear, deer, and grouse.

Small clear-cuts scattered throughout the forest provide openings and young, brushy growth that serve as food and cover for many wildlife species. Besides the American Woodcock, this also benefits other wildlife, including deer, grouse, bear, and moose.

Blueberry Fields and Grasslands

Several clearings are maintained to provide courtship and roosting territory for American woodcock as well as food for other wildlife, including white-tailed deer and black bear.

If left untouched, these areas would soon become overgrown by shrubs and trees. They are kept clear through occasional through mowing and burning.


Wetlands management on the refuge has greatly increased waterfowl numbers. Dabbling ducks, such as black ducks and wood ducks, require water depths of no more than 18 inches of which to feed. Water control structures on marshes and ponds allow managers to maintain optimal water levels for plant growth and feeding by waterfowl. Water level control provides necessary food and cover during the breeding season. It also allows marshes to be drained periodically for rejuvenation.

Wetlands are habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, and shore birds at Moosehorn. Four natural lakes and over 50 manmade waterways provide the birds with areas for breeding grounds and migration stops. Water plants are also important food for moose.

In the wild, beaver dams raise and lower water levels, inadvertently creating wetland habitats. Moosehorn uses dams to recreate this effect of flooding and draining.

Black ducks, Canada geese, and common loons can be seen on the refuge's lakes and marshes. Magurrewock Marsh abounds with goose and duck broods in mid-May.

In addition, great blue herons and American bitterns feed here during the warm, summer months.

Woodcock Management

American woodcock are studied and managed intensively at Moosehorn NWR. Unlike their relatives, these reclusive shorebirds have evolved to live in the forests of eastern North America. They spend their days in dense alder thickets, using their long bills to locate and extract earthworms from the ground. At night, they move to clearings to roost.

Unfortunately the woodcock population in the Atlantic Flyway has declined steadily over the past two decades. This downturn is due mostly to loss of habitat through conversion of brush-covered land into house lots, tree plantations, and mature forests. Research and management programs at Moosehorn NWR have provided valuable information to stem this decline.

The refuge serves as a breeding area and migration stop for a variety of waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds. Black ducks, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, Canada geese, and common loons can be seen on the refuge's lakes and marshes. In mid-May, Magurrewock Marsh, which borders U.S. Route 1 on the Baring Division, abounds with goose and duck broods. In addition, great blue herons and American bitterns feed there during the warmer months.

Fire Management

Moosehorn's fire management program uses controlled burns to reduce fuel loads by removing accumulated dead vegetation. This practice minimizes the chance of wildfires, while improving habitat.

Fires stimulate new growth, providing food and cover for wildlife.

Wilderness Area

Approximately one-third of the refuge is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The two wilderness areas (one in each division) are managed with a ""hands-off"" approach and granted special protections. 

Most importantly, mechanical vehicles (including bicycles) are prohibited. Two trails for foot travel exist. Hikers should bring
a topographical map and compass.

The wilderness areas provide habitat for animals that are sensitive to disturbance.

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. 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.