On the refuge, beaches and shores of the refuge provide loafing and feeding sites for shorebirds, gulls, and terns. The surrounding shallow bays provide valuable feeding areas for the wading and water birds. Other vertebrates known to use the refuge or surrounding waters include raccoons, marsh rabbits, manatees, and sea turtles.
The Refuge was established as a ". . . preserve and breeding ground for native birds" on October 23, 1908, through Executive Order 958 signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. Upon the recommendation of T. Gilbert Pearson of the National Audubon Society, Island Bay NWR was protected by Audubon warden Columbus McLeod before he was presumed murdered, in the line of duty, later that same year. On October 23, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed Public Law 91-504 establishing the refuge as a Wilderness Area.
These sites are dominated by large mounds built by Calusa Indians who inhabited the coastal area of South Florida hundreds of years ago.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The majority of the lands in these refuges are nesting and roosting islands. The entire complex is approximately 8,000 acres. The Refuge Complex headquarters is located at 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel, FL 33957.