What We Do
Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is one link in a chain of refuges for migratory birds that extends along the Atlantic Flyway between northern breeding grounds and southern wintering areas. The refuge provides important feeding, resting and breeding habitat for migratory birds, especially waterfowl, in the northern Lake Champlain section of the flyway. Refuge lands also protect the Shad Island great blue heron rookery, the largest colony in Vermont.
Management and Conservation
The management objectives of Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge are consistent with the objectives of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement by federal agencies, states, Canada and private groups to conserve, restore and enhance wetland habitat for waterfowl and other wetland dependent migratory birds.
A variety of habitat management practices are used at Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge to benefit wildlife. Water levels in refuge impoundments are manipulated to encourage the growth of waterfowl food and cover plants such as wild rice and buttonbush, while also providing good ground-nesting habitat for mallards, black ducks and teal. Although not as important as they were when wood duck populations were declining, nestboxes throughout the delta supplement natural cavities on the refuge for wood ducks, common goldeneyes and hooded mergansers. Poles and platforms for ospreys have also played an important role in the recent recovery of that population in Vermont.
Haying, mowing and controlled burning are methods used to keep open fields from changing back to forest. Many wildlife species benefit from these open field habitats. Waterfowl, bobolinks, and other grassland species use the grassy cover for nesting. Small mammals that use open fields provide a food source for birds of prey such as rough-legged hawks, American kestrels and northern harriers.
Maintaining a healthy diversity of habitats at Missisquoi refuge requires the control of exotic pest plants such as water chestnut and Japanese knotweed. If left unchecked, these non-native plants would outcompete native plants and reduce the value of refuge wildlife habitat for migratory birds.
Protecting resources and people on our refuges is the fundamental responsibility of refuge officers. The mission of the Refuge Law Enforcement Program is to support the administration of the National Wildlife Refuge System through the management and protection of natural, historic and cultural resources, property, and people on lands and waters of our national wildlife refuges.
Laws and Regulations
The refuge is open for nature photography, wildlife observation, fishing, hunting, environmental education and interpretation. To protect the natural resources of the refuge and to provide all visitors with a safe and enjoyable wildlife experience please observe all refuge signs and regulations in handouts and brochures.