What We Do
Upper Ouachita NWR provides wintering habitat for thousands of waterfowl each year. Mallards, green-winged teal, wood ducks, gadwall and shovelers are just some of the species that can be found on the refuge in the winter months. We also rely heavily on forest management, prescribed burning, andmanagement to provide quality habitat for native wildlife species.
Management and Conservation
We use a variety of management tools to improve wildlife habitat on Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge.
Upper Ouachita NWR provides wintering habitat for thousands of waterfowl each year. Mallards, green-winged teal, wood ducks, gadwall and shovelers are just some of the species that can be found on the refuge in the winter months. At Mollicy, the refuge manages moist soil to provide preferred natural foods for waterfowl. This area is managed by manipulating vegetation to promote plants that produce large amounts of seeds such as sprangletop, native millet, and sedges. Controlling water level is key to which species of plants germinate.
With the exception of the Mollicy unit, the majority of the existing Refuge forests are in a closed or nearly-closed canopy condition, which generally limits habitat diversity. In other words, the canopy has shaded out the forest floor which does not allow for plants to grow in the understory. Forest management is the most effective and efficient management tool for improving quality wildlife habitat by increasing cover, browse and nestingin the understory. Before management decisions are made, an inventory of forest stands is conducted to evaluate the current habitat conditions and determine which areas need to be treated or thinned. The areas selected are designated and all trees to be thinned are marked with blue paint. A logging operation will take place to remove the trees that are marked. This is conducted under the direct supervision of the Refuge Forester. The treatments are a combination of single-tree selection, group selection, and patchcuts. The objective of the thinnings is to reduce canopy closure which will allow sunlight penetration to the forest floor and increase production of vegetation, including the regeneration of oaks, on the ground layer. This provides excellent food and cover for many wildlife species.
Prescribed burning is conducted on the refuge to mimic historical, natural wildfire that Pine Flatwood forests experienced. Fire sets back woody succession and promotes an herbaceous and grassy understory. This habitat type is used by the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and without prescribed burning, the habitat would become unsuitable for these birds. Prescribed fire is conducted under rigorous policy guidelines that includes annual training, physical fitness testing and review of burn prescriptions at the Regional level. Burning is always conducted according to weather, safety and personnel thresholds specified in each prescription. Prescribed fire is an excellent tool to meet habitat objectives for wildlife.
Invasive Species Management
Feral hogs have become a major issue on most lands in the Southeast. Not native to the United States, these animals are destructive invaders who out-compete native wildlife species, such as deer, turkeys and squirrels, for plant and animal food resources. They "till" up the ground by rooting for food and disturb native plant communities. Because of their tendencies to wallow and root in wet areas and along bodies of water, they also have negative impacts on water quality and wetlands and can impair tree regeneration. Additionally, feral hogs carry diseases that are communicable to humans and other domestic and wild animals including brucellosis and pseudo-rabies. Although the refuge conducts control activities, these animals have extremely high reproductive rates. Females reach sexual maturity as early as 6 months and have 2 litters each year of approximately 10 piglets. In the Southeast, where large predators like cougars and wolves are now mostly gone, pigs are not very vulnerable to predation once they reach about 40 pounds. Due to all of these factors, hog populations are extremely hard to control once they become established.
Exotic plants are a threat to native vegetation and the biological integrity of an ecosystem. Invaders such as Chinese tallowtree, Chinese privet, Japanese climbing fern, hyacinth, and giant salvinia can complete outcompete native vegetation becoming a monoculture.
To report a wildlife crime or incident to law enforcement, please call or text our refuge officer at 318-355-6842 or call the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 24 hour line at 1-800-442-2511.
Laws and Regulations
Please see the Public Use Regulations Brochure for more information on hunting and fishing on the Refuge.