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Prime Hook
National Wildlife Refuge

11978 Turkle Pond Road
Milton, DE   19968
E-mail: fw5rw_phnwr@fws.gov
Phone Number: 302-684-8419
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Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge
Prime Hook NWR is located 22 miles southeast of Dover, DE, near the western shore of Delaware Bay. In 1963, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge was established under the authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or any other management purpose, expressly for migratory birds. The refuge is considered to have one of the best existing wetland habitat areas along the Atlantic Coast. Refuge impoundments have become important stop-over sites for spring and fall migrating shorebirds, waterfowl, and wading birds. Endangered and threatened species management activities provide habitat for the Delmarva fox squirrel, nesting bald eagles and migrating peregrine falcons. Neotropical land birds passing through the area utilize the refuge's upland forested habitat during the fall and spring. The refuge's 10,000 acres are a diverse landscape featuring freshwater and salt marshes, woodlands, grasslands, scrub-brush habitats, ponds, bottomland forested areas, and a 7 mile long creek. These cover types provide habitat for approximately 296 species of birds, 38 species of reptiles and amphibians and 37 different mammals.

Getting There . . .
Traveling north, take State Route 113 south from Dover. At Milford take Route 1 south. Approximately 15 miles south of Milford the first traffic light is the intersection of Route 1 and 16. Turn left on Route 16 and follow for 1.1 miles toward Broadkill Beach. Turn left onto Turkle Pond Road and follow 1.6 miles to office/visitor contact station.

From the south, travel north on US 13/113 into Delaware to State Route 16 (10 milesnorth of Georgetown). Turn right on State Route 16 and travel to the intersection of Route 1/16. Follow Route 16, 1.1 miles and turn left onto Turkle Pond Road. Follow Turkle Pond Road to office/visitor contact station.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Prime Hook offers varied habitats that support a diversity of wildlife, fish, and plants.

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The earliest European settlement in the area dates back to a land grant signed in 1671. Following the Native American culture, fishing, hunting, trapping, and farming were practiced by these early settlers and are still a traditional lifestyle today.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
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Management Activities
The primary management focus on the refuge is to maintain and enhance its 6,000 acres of wetland habitats to accommodate a diversity of wetland-dependent species throughout the year and to support large numbers of wintering waterfowl.

Various moist-soil strategies and techniques are used to manage and monitor the refuge's impoundments by annually creating different mosaics of annual and perennial wetland plant communities. This is accomplished by performing slow drawdown and reflooding regimes between the refuge's 3 impoundments: Unit II (1,500 acres), Unit III (2,500 acres) and Unit IV (200 acres). In this way, a wider spectrum of wetland-dependent species can be targeted to benefit from marsh and water level manipulations, habitats (like shallow mudflats)and food resources (like midge larvae) can be developed for shorebirds in the spring and summer, while simultaneously generating excellent seed production of moist-soil annual plants, which can later be made available to migrating and wintering waterfowl within the same impoundments during the fall and winter of that same year.

Maintenance of additional resting and feeding areas supporting migratory Canada geese, black ducks, and other resources of concern due to declining population trends within the Atlantic Flyway is another important objective of the refuge's marsh, water, and upland planning endeavors. Other specialized habitat enhancement and monitoring programs are centered around the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel to restore and stabilize population numbers within the squirrel's historical range.

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