Located on and around Kentucky Lake in Northwest Tennessee, the refuge’s three units, Big Sandy, Duck River, and Busseltown, stretch for 65 miles along the Tennessee River. Established in 1945, the refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and was created as an area for migratory birds.
The Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge provides a major wintering area for migrating waterfowl. Currently the refuge habitats include agricultural crops; vegetated wetlands, mudflats, shrub/scrub areas and forest lands. The resulting combination of agricultural grains, natural foods and protected areas sustains waterfowl through the winter months.
Because the refuge has such a diversity of habitats, we are well known for harboring an abundance of wildlife. In particular we are rich in bird species, in fact there have been 306 species of birds recorded on the refuge. This is significant as the state of Tennessee has a total 409 bird species, three quarters of which have been found on this refuge.
The refuge also provides homes for other resident wildlife species. Our checklist includes 51 mammals, 89 reptiles and amphibians and 144 species of fish located here. An abundance of white-tailed deer can be found throughout the area, along with smaller animals such as raccoons, foxes, squirrels, beaver, rabbits and wild turkey.
In addition to being a home to wildlife, the refuge offers many recreational opportunities such as: hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography. The refuge offers two hiking trails, four wildlife observation decks, multiple boat ramps and fishing decks. The refuge also serves as the perfect outdoor classroom for environmental education and interpretation activities. Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge is open during daylight hours.