What We Do
Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a
national wildlife refuge
national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
Learn more about national wildlife refuge is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.
Management and Conservation
The refuge provides long-term conservation of important forested wildlife habitat for migratory birds and threatened and endangered species. The refuge provides management and enhancement of forested habitat for wildlife populations, thereby contributing to the biological diversity in Downeast Maine. Years of work have been invested in developing forest management plans that protect mature forests while providing wildlife with a diversity of early to mid-successional forests. The refuge has been identified by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry as having some of the oldest mature forest in the state of Maine.
Refuges deploy a host of scientifically sound management tools to address biological challenges. These tools span active water management to wilderness character monitoring, all aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach to benefit both wildlife and people. At this field station our conservation tool box includes:
Historically, Maine's forests were occasionally cleared by agriculture and wildfires. Moosehorn's forest management plan seeks to mimic that process through timber harvest and controlled burns. The refuge's forests are strategically harvested to create clearings, alder thickets, and young forests in close proximity to each other. These areas provide the diverse forest types needed by the American woodcock, and benefit many wildlife species including bear, deer, and grouse. Small clear-cuts scattered throughout the forest provide openings and young, brushy growth that serve as food and cover for many wildlife species. Besides the American Woodcock, this also benefits other wildlife, including deer, grouse, bear, and moose.
The refuge provides long-term conservation of important forested wildlife habitat for migratory birds and threatened and endangered species. The refuge provides management and enhancement of forested habitat for wildlife populations, thereby contributing to the biological diversity in Downeast Maine. Years of work have been invested in developing forest management plans that protect mature forests while providing wildlife with a diversity of early to mid-successional forests. Moosehorn has been identified by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry as having some of the oldest mature forest in the state of Maine.
Blueberry fields and grasslands
Several clearings are maintained to provide courtship and roosting territory for American woodcock as well as food for other wildlife, including white-tailed deer and black bear. If left untouched, these areas would soon become overgrown by shrubs and trees. They are kept clear through occasional through mowing and burning.
Freshwater marshes and ponds
Wetlands can be found throughout refuge (i.e. bogs, heaths, emergent wetlands, forested wetlands, and impoundments). The refuge is actively working to improve the quality of wetlands to provide optimal habitat for a variety of wetland birds and mammals, and coastal areas including tidal marshes and rocky shoreline.
Wetlands management on the refuge has greatly increased waterfowl numbers. Dabbling ducks, such as black ducks and wood ducks, require water depths of no more than 18 inches of which to feed. Water control structures on marshes and ponds allow managers to maintain optimal water levels for plant growth and feeding by waterfowl. Water level control provides necessary food and cover during the breeding season. It also allows marshes to be drained periodically for rejuvenation.
Wetlands are habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, and shore birds at Moosehorn. Four natural lakes and over 50 manmade waterways provide the birds with areas for breeding grounds and migration stops. Water plants are also important food for moose.
In the wild, beaver dams raise and lower water levels, inadvertently creating wetland habitats. Moosehorn uses dams to recreate this effect of flooding and draining. Black ducks, Canada geese, and common loons can be seen on the refuge's lakes and marshes. Magurrewock Marsh abounds with goose and duck broods in mid-May. In addition, great blue herons and American bitterns feed here during the warm, summer months.
American woodcock are studied and managed intensively at Moosehorn NWR. Unlike their relatives, these reclusive shorebirds have evolved to live in the forests of eastern North America. They spend their days in dense alder thickets, using their long bills to locate and extract earthworms from the ground. At night, they move to clearings to roost.
Unfortunately the woodcock population in the Atlantic Flyway has declined steadily over the past two decades. This downturn is due mostly to loss of habitat through conversion of brush-covered land into house lots, tree plantations, and mature forests. Research and management programs at Moosehorn NWR have provided valuable information to stem this decline.
The refuge serves as a breeding area and migration stop for a variety of waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds. Black ducks, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, Canada geese, and common loons can be seen on the refuge's lakes and marshes. In mid-May, Magurrewock Marsh, which borders U.S. Route 1 on the Baring Division, abounds with goose and duck broods. In addition, great blue herons and American bitterns feed there during the warmer months.
Trapping as a management tool
Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The US Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations.