Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge

About Us

Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge located on Cape Cod Massachusetts is one of eight refuges that make up the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The refuge was established in 1995 to preserve and protect natural resources associated with the Waquoit Bay area for the protection of waterfowl and wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only owns a portion of the enormous refuge. Through a unique partnership among eight federal, state, tribal and private conservation groups, the refuge is managed to help conserve and protect the area’s wildlife and habitat. The refuge is named after the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which encompassed the homelands of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

The refuge manages a variety of habitats including Atlantic white cedar swamps, coastal ecosystems, salt marshes, cranberry bogs, freshwater wetlands, ponds, rivers and vernal pools. These habitats provide ideal environment for songbirds, migratory waterfowl, raptors, white-tailed deer, small game and furbearers.

Our Mission


The Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex will contribute to the mission of the Refuge System and support ecosystem–wide priority wildlife and natural communities. Management will maximize the diversity and abundance of fish and wildlife with emphasis on threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, and aquatic resources. The Complex will have a well-funded and community supported acquisition program which contributes to wildlife conservation. The refuges will be well known nationally and appreciated in their communities. They will be seen as active partners in their communities, school systems, and environmental organizations which will result in high levels of support for the refuges. The refuges will be a showcase for sound wildlife management techniques and will offer top-quality, compatible, wildlife dependent recreational activities. Refuges open to the public will provide staffed visitor contact facilities that are clean, attractive, and accessible, with effective environmental education and interpretation.

Refuge Purpose(s)

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 purpose(s) of this Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge is “for the development, advancement, management, conservation, and protection of fish and wildlife resources ...” 16 U.S.C. § 742 f(a)(4)).”

Our History

The Wampanoag are the first recorded residents in what are now called Mashpee and Falmouth and across much of what are now known as Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts. The tribe used the land what is now the refuge for hunting, fishing, gathering of food and medicinal plants, as well as ceremonial purposes. Check out Wampanoag Tribe History here

1620: Pilgrims arrive in Plymouth Massachusetts.

1970-1990s: Human development and conservation efforts compete in Mashpee and Falmouth to obtain land.

1993: George Costa (Mashpee selectman) and Tom Fudala (Mashpee Town Planner) create and submit a detailed prospectus document to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

1995: Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge is established.

Check out Refuge History here

Other Facilities in this Complex

Situated along the Atlantic Flyway in Massachusetts, the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex is comprised of eight ecologically diverse refuges. The eight individual refuges include inland and coastal wetlands, forests, grasslands, and barrier beaches that provide important habitat for migratory birds, mammals, plants, reptiles and amphibians. 

Complex headquarters is located at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, Massachusetts, 01776. Phone: (978) 443-4661, Fax: (978) 443-2898.