Wildlife & Habitat


Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and its surrounding waters support many species of resident and migratory fish and wildlife. The fish and wildlife populations are influenced by a number of factors: the refuge’s location along the Atlantic Flyway for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, and neotropical migratory songbirds; the brackish water surrounding the refuge; and the nature of the habitat on the refuge. Of the species on the refuge, 200 are birds; 40 are mammals, 40 are reptiles, and 36 are amphibians. The refuge supports wildlife species that are important from both a regional and a national standpoint. Its large size and dense vegetation makes it a haven for species that avoid man, such as the black bear. Also, the refuge harbors many species that are only adapted to living in large tracts of forested habitat as opposed to disturbed areas such as field edges. Interior forest breeding birds, such as the prothonotary warbler, migrate to the refuge each spring to nest in those wetland forests. The refuge also lies at or near the northern limit of ranges for several vertebrate species, including the American alligator. The refuge was the site for reintroduction of the red wolf in 1987 and the wolves are thriving on the refuge and the surrounding private and public land.

  • Red Wolf

    Red Wolf

    Pocosin Lakes River National Wildlife Refuge is the focus of a recovery effort to reintroduce the endangered red wolf into the wild.  The refuge has a Red Wolf Health Care and Educational Facility where you may observe a captive pair of wolves.  This Center is operated in partnership with the Red Wolf Coalition.  For details about the Red Wolf Recovery Program, visit www.fws.gov/redwolf

  • Black Bear

    Black bear with cubs

    Pocosin Lakes and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuges offer tremendous opportunities to see black bears in the wild.

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  • Birds

    Wood Duck Lewis X150

    This refuge offers resting, feeding, and nesting areas for many species of birds.  Download the Refuge Wildlife List.

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  • Tundra Swan


    Tundra swans are very large birds that winter at the Pocosin Lakes National Refuge and the surrounding areas. 


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  • Other Native Wildlife

    Bullfrog by Lweis X150

    Literally hundreds of species of native wildlife call Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge home and benefit from both the protection and the management practices.  In all, this includes over 200 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, 40 species of reptiles, and 36 species of amphibians.   Download the Refuge Wildlife List.

  • Habitat Types


    The origin of the term “pocosin” in the name of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is an American Indian word for ‘swamp on a hill’. Although the land on the refuge is only a few feet above sea level, it is elevated relative to the surrounding marshes on the shorelines of the sounds.

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