What We Do

The National Wildlife Refuge System is a series of lands and waters owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the refuge system. It drives everything we do from the purpose a refuge is established, to the recreational activities offered there, to the resource management tools we use. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the refuge.

River Restoration Projects

The refuge works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the development of side channels and other shallow water habitat to support native fish and wildlife. Refuge staff work with engineers to design methods of construction of aquatic habitats as well as alterations of navigational structures within rivers so that the river system will create similar habitat within refuge boundaries.

Invasive Plant Removal

Refuge staff regularly work on removing non-native invasive plant species. Beneficial native plants are then planted to shade out or out-compete non-native plant invasions with the aim of restoring native habitat. When necessary, refuge staff apply herbicide to control non-native species using environmentally safe application procedures.

Bird Monitoring

Refuge staff regularly conduct migratory waterfowl, prairie and forest bird surveys to assess status, trends and changes in populations and habitat use. This information is vital for planning and resource management to conserve birds and their native habitats.

Pollinator Monitoring

Refuge biologists monitor pollinators on the refuge. Because little is known about these beneficial insects and their critical role in the floodplain environment of the refuge, staff capture and identify them and monitor the type of habitat and plants they utilize in the hopes they may provide some of the first clues in climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change
alterations to the environment.


Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds, or to control wildlife populations of concern. While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when practiced responsibly during times of surpluses of some fur-bearing mammals, Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge only utilizes trapping as a wildlife management tool; therefore, trapping is prohibited by the public on all refuge units.

Management and Conservation

Refuges use a wide range of land management tools based on the best science available. Some refuges use prescribed fires to mimic natural fires that would have cleared old vegetation from the land helping native plants regenerate and local wildlife to thrive. Other refuges contain wilderness areas where land is largely managed in passively. The management tools used are aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach where both wildlife and people will benefit.

Law Enforcement

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Officers help visitors understand and obey wildlife protection laws. They work closely with state and local government offices to enforce federal, state and refuge hunting regulations that protect migratory birds and other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities.