National Wildlife Refuge
|509 Wildlife Rd
Gilbertown, AL 36908
Phone Number: 251-246-3583
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|The most popular public use activity is fishing in the numerous back-water sloughs and lakes on the Refuge.|
Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge
The Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge is located in southwest Alabama along the Tombigbee River approximately 80 miles north of Mobile. The Refuge was established in 1964 on lands aquired by the Corp of Engineers in conjunction with the Coffeeville Lock and Dam project. The 4,218 acre refuge encompasses approximately 1,802 acres of lakes, sloughs, and creeks, 2,265 acres of bottomland hardwoods, and 151 acres of croplands and moist soil units.
The refuge is divided into three units by Okatuppa and Turkey Creeks. This makes a large portion of the refuge accessable only by boat. Due to its location along the Tombigbee River, the entire refuge is subject to annual Spring flooding.
The primary purpose of the refuge is to provide wood duck brood habitat and serve as a protected wintering area for waterfowl. Up to 200 broods of wood ducks are produced anually in the refuge's artificial nest boxes, and wintering waterfowl numbers can exceed 10,000. In addition, numerous neotropical migrant and wading birds benefit from management activities. Following a successful bald eagle hacking program in the early 1990's the refuge has played host to a nesting pair of eagles each winter. During the summer months wood storks can be found resting and feeding in the back-water sloughs and moist soil units. Resident wildlife includes white-tailed deer, gray squirrels, turkey, raccoons, opossum, American alligator, and beaver.
Getting There . . .
The Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge is located about 20 miles northwest of Coffeeville, Alabama. From Coffeeville, Alabama take Highway 84 across Tombigbee River going West. Turn north off U.S. Highway 84 at County Road # 21, which is about 8 miles west of Coffeeville and 4 miles east of Silas; then go north 4 miles to Barrytown and turn east; follow County Road #14 to Womack Hill; turn right at Womack Hill. Watch for refuge directional signs from Highway 84 to the refuge entrance.
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The refuge's mission is to provide for the public benefit, wintering habitat for migratory waterfowl, nesting and brood habitat for wood ducks and for the protection of alligators. This mission is accomplished through the use of various management activities. Four hundred nest boxes are maintained for wood ducks resulting in the hatching of approximately 2500 birds each year. In addition to the moist soil units, crops such as millet, milo, wheat, and clover are grown in fields for the benifit of both waterfowl and resident wildlife. Most of these areas are flooded in the winter to make them available to ducks.
Selective timber harvesting is used to open up the forest canopy to allow sunlight to reach the forest floor. This stimulates herbaceous plant growth and allows for the rejuvination of the hardwood forest, improving diversity of wildlife habitat on the refuge.
One of the affects of the Spring flooding has been the proliferation of exotic aquatic plants. The refuge works in close coordination with the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and the Corp of Engineers to control the spread of these unwanted pests.
The Cypess Tupelo Research Natural Area which encompasses 35 acres is protected from the damageing effects of beavers which damage both individual trees and interfee with water management.