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National Wildlife Refuge

1371 Wildlife Drive
Springville, TN   38256
E-mail: fw4_rw_tennessee@fws.gov
Phone Number: 731-642-2091
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A pintail takes flight at Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge.
Photo:Clayton Ferrell
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Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge

Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, encompassing more than 51,000 acres, is located on Kentucky Lake in northwest Tennessee. The refuge's three units, Big Sandy, Duck River, and Busseltown, stretch 65 miles alongside the Tennessee River. Since its establishment in 1945, the refuge has been managed as a resting and feeding area for wintering waterfowl. The refuge also provides habitat for numerous resident wildlife species and other migratory birds.

The refuge consists of a diversity of habitats including open reservoir waters, bottomland hardwoods, upland oak/hickory forests, freshwater marsh, agricultural lands, and some of the largest and highest quality moist soil managed impoundments in the nation. The diversity of habitats found on Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge provide ample feeding, nesting and resting areas for 301 bird species, 51 types of mammals, 89 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 144 species of fish. A hotspot for fish diversity, this refuge boasts greater fish species diversity than any other inland national wildlife refuge in the country.

Getting There . . .
The Refuge Headquarters Office is located on the east side of Paris, Tennessee, just off Highway 79 North, at 3006 Dinkins Lane. The Duck River Unit is located in Humphreys and Benton Counties at the confluence of the Duck and Tennessee Rivers. The staffed Sub-Headquarters for this unit is 1 ½ miles southeast of Hustburg, Tennessee. The Big Sandy Unit is unstaffed and is located 12 miles north of the town of Big Sandy, at the confluence of the Big Sandy and Tennessee Rivers. The unstaffed Busseltown Unit is located in Decatur County, the entrance to the unit being 5 miles northeast of Parsons, Tennessee.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Tennessee Refuge's importance in the Mississippi Flyway migration route can be seen each winter when large flocks of waterfowl stop by the refuge to feed and rest. The refuge is a major wintering area for more than 250,000 ducks and 20,000 geese each year.

The refuge winters the largest population of the southern James Bay Canada geese in the southeast, one of the most imperiled populations of geese on the North American continent, and winters up to 10% of the continental population and two-thirds of all the American black ducks found in the state. It is an important nesting and migration route for migratory neotropical birds. Eighty-three percent of the species of concern in the Lower Plateau Partners in Flight Physiographic Area occur on the refuge. This refuge is given the distinction of a "Globally Important Bird Area" for migratory birds.

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Management Activities
The primary management objective on the refuge is to provide food and protection for wintering waterfowl. Tennessee Refuge offers migrating waterfowl a combination of foods including agricultural crops such as milo, corn, soybeans, and winter wheat, and natural seeds in our moist soil impoundments.

Another management focus is to improve habitat for forest nesting birds. In an effort to restore more natural forest conditions on the refuge, a forest management program has been initiated to carefully alter the forest structure, resulting in improved habitats for nesting birds and many other species of wildlife.

This refuge has an active wood duck nest box program. Large numbers of "woodies" may be found in refuge wetlands, nesting in artificial nest boxes as well as in natural tree cavities. Tennessee NWR places leg bands on approximately 1,000 wood ducks for tracking purposes during late summer. This is more than any other refuge in the nation and very important to the management of the species.

Tennessee NWR established the first MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) station on a national wildlife refuge in the southeast region in 1993. During the summer breeding season, monitoring stations are set up within forested habitats where songbirds are trapped by means of fine gauge "mist" nets. Birds are banded with a small numbered leg band. Data such as age, sex, and condition are taken for each bird captured to determine their status, movement and productivity.