Hurricane Preparedness Notice

Before you visit Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, please check the weather and plan accordingly! Read our full Hurricane Preparedness Notice.

Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge conserves a rare type of wetland habitat, known as "pocosin," derived from a Native American word meaning "swamp on a hill." The refuge encompasses vast acres of natural wetlands, including the unique southeastern pocosin peat wetlands, open water on Pungo and New Lakes, upland pine forests, and managed moist-soil and agricultural units that provide high-energy food for waterfowl. More than a hundred thousand ducks, geese, and swans congregate on the refuge in winter, and the refuge supports one of the densest populations of black bear ever reported. The refuge is the site of one of the country’s largest wetland restoration projects, restoring natural hydrology to the pocosin peatlands.
Road Condition Updates

Most public use refuge roads are currently open to vehicles under 8,000 pounds. For current closures, please call 252-796-3004, extension 225

Almost all refuge roads, especially those on the Pungo Unit, are dirt and may be muddy during periods of wet weather. Please check the weather and use caution when roads are wet. 

Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge provides numerous recreation opportunities to visitors every year, whether driving, boating, biking, or hiking. Stop by the Walter B. Jones, Sr. Center for the Sounds in Columbia to explore the interactive displays and take a stroll along the Scuppernong River Boardwalk—sunsets over the Scuppernong are a must-see! Head to the Pungo Unit to see black bear, winter waterfowl, and other wildlife. Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge offers excellent wildlife photography opportunities, especially in early mornings and late afternoons, when wildlife is most active and lighting can be spectacular. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing and photography, birding, hunting, fishing, hiking, and biking.

Location and Contact Information

      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.

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      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. 

      Habitat management at Pocosin Lakes NWR is greatly influenced by fire and water. The refuge’s water management keeps the peat soils moist, protecting them from destructive wildfire and restoring natural biochemical processes in the wetland. Pocosins are a fire-adapted ecosystem. Many plant communities found in pocosin wetlands require fire to persist in healthy conditions. Prescribed fire reduces the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires, releases nutrients back into the soil, removes undesirable vegetation, and stimulates growth of early successional plants that are eaten by a variety of wildlife. In addition, the cooperative farming program on the refuge allows local farmers to farm on refuge lands in exchange for leaving a portion of the crop as high-energy food for waterfowl and other wildlife.

      Our Species

      Red Wolf

      As their name suggests, red wolves are known for the characteristic reddish color of their fur most apparent behind the ears and along the neck and legs, but are mostly brown and buff colored with some black along their backs. Intermediate in size to gray wolves and coyotes, the average adult...

      FWS Focus
      North American River Otter
      northern river otter
      river otter
      common otter
      FWS Focus
      Bobcat
      FWS Focus

      Projects and Research