Established in 1989, Cape May National Wildlife Refuge provides critical habitat to a wide variety of migratory birds and other wildlife. It supports 317 bird species, 42 mammal species, 55 reptile and amphibian species, and numerous fish, shellfish and other invertebrates. Its value for the protection of migratory birds and their habitat will continue to grow as wildlife habitat along the Jersey Shore is developed into roads, shopping centers and housing developments. Cape May Peninsula's unique configuration and location concentrate songbirds, raptors and woodcock as they funnel south to Cape May Point during their fall migration. Faced with 12 miles of water to cross at the Delaware Bay migrants linger in the area to rest and feed until favorable winds allow them to cross the Bay or head north along the Bay's eastern shore. The refuge has been designated a “Flagship Project” of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, identified as an Important Bird Area (American Bird Conservancy), incorporated with in the DE Bay site of Hemispheric Significance (Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network), and is located within the portion of the DE Bay watershed that is designated a Wetland of International Importance
Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established to serve a statutory purpose that targets the conservation of native species dependent on its lands and waters. All activities on those acres are reviewed for compatibility with this statutory purpose.
The primary purposes of Cape May NWR are for:
- “...use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds....” The Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. §715d);
- “...the development, advancement, management, conservation, and protection of fish and wildlife resources....” The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. §742f(a)(4); • “...the conservation of the wetlands of the Nation in order to maintain the public benefits they provide and to help fulfill international obligations (regarding migratory birds)... “ The Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986 (16 U.S.C. §3901(b), 100 Stat. 3583).
The purpose of Cape May NWR's Two Mile Beach Unit is:
“...particular value in carrying out the national migratory bird management program” The Transfer of Certain Real Property for Wildlife Conservation Purposes Act, 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. §667b-667d; 62 Stat. 240).