Created in 1988, Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge was the 447th refuge established. Consisting of fresh marsh, coastal prairie, and old rice fields, Cameron Prairie NWR is located at the convergence of two major flyways. The refuge has an important role in management for migratory birds including many species of ducks, geese, and other waterfowl and migratory birds. Conservation priorities on the refuge include the management, protection, and perpetuation of coastal marshes in order to provide high-quality food and habitat for wintering migratory waterfowl, other migratory birds, and native wildlife. The refuge provides a winter home to thousands of ducks and geese including green-winged teal, mallards, northern pintail, ring-necked ducks, white-fronted and snow geese. Cameron Prairie boasts high wading bird diversity and abundance with a peak of 15,000 or more wading birds roosting on the Refuge. Common nesting and visiting wading birds on the refuge include white, white-faced, and glossy ibis; green, great blue, tri-colored, and little blue herons; yellow-crowned and black-crowned night herons; American and least bitterns; snowy, great, and cattle egrets; and roseate spoonbills. Cameron Prairie also serves as a seasonal home to Shorebirds, Gulls, Terns, and Allied Species. The three most widespread birds of this group found on the refuge are the killdeer, black-necked stilt, and Forster's tern. Common snipe are also prevalent on the refuge during the winter. Yellowlegs and dowitchers are found on the refuge's shallow water areas during the fall and winter. Cameron Prairie's raptors include red-tailed hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, merlins, kestrels, Cooper's hawks, northern harriers, and occasionally peregrine falcons, ospreys, and bald eagles. Few hawks winter on the refuge. The refuge recorded its first Crested Caracara during March 2000. Since then Caracara's have become a common winter sighting. One major attraction of Cameron Prairie Refuge is the considerable number of neotropical migratory birds that rest here each spring after their trans-Gulf flight. While the Refuge does not have many trees or shrubs for these species to use, those that are available are extremely important to the migrants. Mourning doves are commonly seen along fence rows, levees, roads, and disced fields at the Refuge. Blackbirds, including red-winged and grackles, are also common. Some native amphibians and reptiles include American alligator, eastern narrow-mouthed toad, Gulf Coast toad, Northern cricket frogs, eastern hog-nosed snake, western ribbon snake, common kingsnake, slider, green anole, ground skink, and five-lined skink. Year round resident mammals include coyotes, several species of rabbits and other small rodents, raccoons, otters, opossum, and mink. Three species of game mammals are found on the refuge, all with productive populations: the white-tailed deer, swamp rabbit, and cottontail rabbit. Resident aquatic species include gar, cat fish, bowfin, bluegill, largemouth bass, and crappie.
Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge will become a haven of prime habitat for the benefit of migratory birds and other wildlife. Visitors to the Refuge will enjoy a quality outdoor experience which will result in an enhanced appreciation of wildlife and their habitats. The Refuge will be a showcase of excellent land management stewardship, demonstrating a balance between intensive wildlife management strategies and safeguarding the Refuge’s ecological integrity, for the conservation and preservation of wildlife and their habitats. The Refuge will serve as the Headquarters for the Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex which will support the needs, resources, and staff of Cameron Prairie, Lacassine, and Sabine National Wildlife Refuges.