U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

c/o Eastern MA NWR Complex
73 Weir Hill Road
Sudbury, MA   01776
E-mail: fw5rw_emnwr@fws.gov
Phone Number: 978-443-4661
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge
Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1983 to conserve the Federally endangered Plymouth redbelly turtle, as well as other wildlife and plant species. The Refuge encompasses 195 acres in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is made up of two parcels; the Crooked Pond parcel abuts the Myles Standish State Forest, the second largest State forest in Massachusetts, and the smaller parcel is located on the shoreline of Island Pond. Massasoit NWR is located within a 3,269-acre area designated as critical habitat for the Plymouth redbelly turtle.

Getting There . . .
Because the Refuge provides critical habitat to the Plymouth redbelly turtle, it is closed to all public uses. Information about the Refuge can be obtained by contacting the headquarters office in Sudbury, MA at 978-443-4661.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The Plymouth redbelly turtle subsists primarily on submergent vegetation, and requires good water quality and suitable basking, nesting, and overwintering sites free from disturbance.

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The Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is one of more than 540 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System throughout the United States.

The National Wildlife Refuge System is the world's largest and most diverse collection of lands and waters specifically set aside for the conservation and management of wildlife resources. Massasoit NWR is one of eight refuges comprising the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex. These ecologically diverse refuges include the Assabet River, Great Meadows, Mashpee, Massasoit, Monomoy, Nantucket, Nomans Land Island, and Oxbow NWRs.

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The refuge is closed to the public.

Recreation and Education Opportunities
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Management Activities
Worcester State College, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been conducting research on life history parameters of the Plymouth redbelly turtle in Massachusetts for many years.

A head-start program has been implemented on the Refuge and surrounding ponds since 1980 to expand the range of the Plymouth redbelly turtle into several additional ponds, and significantly increase the number of turtles in ponds with existing populations. The head-start program consists of collecting hatchlings as they emerge in the wild and raising them in captivity during the first 9 months. Turtles are kept in a warm environment and fed a constant diet of lettuce. When they are released back into the wild the following spring, the captive raised turtles are the size of an average 3-5 year old wild turtle, which increases their chances of surviving the realm of predators that prey on young, small turtles. Between 1980 and 2002 over 2,000 head-started turtles have been released in twenty-two sites.

Refuge Staff are working to enhance habitat around Crooked Pond for nesting and basking turtles. Because Plymouth redbelly turtles require open, sandy soils to nest, hand and mechanized tools are used to remove encroaching vegetation and turn the soil on an annual basis. Trees removed to expose nesting beaches to sunlight are limbed and anchored in the shallow waters of the pond to provide additional basking sites.