U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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J.N. "Ding" Darling
National Wildlife Refuge

Roseate Spoonbill taking flight.
1 Wildlife Drive
Sanibel, FL   33957
E-mail: dingdarling@fws.gov
Phone Number: 239-472-1100
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One of our most visible attractions at the J.N. "Ding " Darling National Wildlife Refuge is the Roseate Spoonbill.
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J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular wading bird populations.

Getting There . . .
The refuge is located approximately 15 miles southwest of Fort Myers on Sanibel Island. Once on the island, turn right onto Periwinkle Way. Proceed 3 miles to Palm Ridge Road (marked Captiva and Refuge) and bear right. Go through stop sign and continue 2 miles to refuge entrance on right.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Established in 1945 as the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge, the refuge was renamed in 1967 in honor of pioneer conservationist and political cartoonist Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling. "Ding" headed the U.S. Biological Survey (forerunner for the Fish and Wildlife Service) and is also credited as one of the key people in the development of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

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Management Activities
Two impoundments totaling 850 acres are managed for fish and aquatic food plants providing foraging habitats for migratory birds. Water levels are manipulated using tidal (saltwater) flow and rainfall (freshwater). The impoundments are also managed to control saltmarsh mosquitoes.

Each year the refuge treats hundreds of acres of invasive exotic Brazilian Pepper and Australian pine trees which displace native plants. The objective of this chemical and manual management activity is to protect and enhance the native subtropical habitats for indigenous flora and fauna. Prescribed fires, controlled fires intentionally set by managers, are used to manage and enhance native subtropical habitats by mimicking historical natural fire events that functioned to maintain native plant communities. Prescribed fires reduce midstory and overstory vegetation on ridges, maintain early successional species, and help control young exotic plants. Prescribed burning reduces hazardous accumulations of flammable fuels and kills invasive woody vegetation.

Regular wildlife surveys are conducted to monitor populations of migratory birds and their production, and to establish trends for a number of species, primarily birds. The refuge monitors colonial nesting and roostingbird numbers, shorebird populations, mottled duck, pelican and osprey production, and alligator and red-shouldered hawk abundance. A weekly Wildlife Drive survey is conducted on Fridays to monitor the abundance and diversity of bird populations using refuge wetlands. Water levels are monitored continuously.