Resource Management


National wildlife refuges are managed under the principle of 'WILDLIFE FIRST.'  While we support and encourage visitation, refuge priority is wildlife.  In most cases managing wildlife means managing their habitat.

 Resource Management

With the exception of the Farm Fields Management Unit, refuge lands are managed primarily through the use of prescribed fire and water level management.  



 Moist Soil Management and Cooperative Farming

This management program provides nearly 5,000 acres of quality habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds and other wildlife, such as the endangered red wolf and black bear that feed in the farm fields.  It enables Alligator River NWR to be an important component in waterfowl management efforts in northeast North Carolina where over half of all tundra swans in North America spend their winters.   
Water levels are manipulated in the refuge moist soil units to promote growth of native plants.  In exchange for farming on refuge land, the farmers leave a portion of a crop unharvested for use by wildlife as spelled out in a cooperative farming agreement. 
Hydrology Restoration 
Roads, canals, and ditches on the Albemarle peninsula are a remnant of past logging and farming operations that have altered the hydrology of the area.  Ditches can abnormally drain the peat soil while some roads serve to impound water and block the normal sheet flow across the landscape.  Management actions include plugging drainage ditches and adding water control structures to culverts so that water levels can be managed to reduce fire danger or combat salt water intrusion via canals. 
Restoration of historic water levels will help slow the rate of habitat conversion and lessen the effects of sea level rise, salt water intrusion, and catastrophic wildfires on the refuge.   
Prescribed Burning 
Prescribed burning is a valuable wildlife and habitat management tool.  The coastal ecosystems of North Carolina include fire-adapted species which need fire in their habitats to reduce competition from invading species and to add nutrients back to the soil.  By reducing the amount of dry and dead plant materials (“fuels”) in an area, prescribed fire is also highly effective at reducing the likelihood of large, damaging wildfire. 
The fires are conducted under “prescribed” conditions in which they can be managed safely to achieve management objectives.  Public and firefighter safety is always the highest priority during a prescribed burn. 


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 on trapping within the National Wildlife Refuge System.