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

Photo collage of Missisquoi River, Environmental Education, Black Tern, Great Blue Heron Rookery
29 Tabor Rd.
Swanton, VT   05488
E-mail: missisquoi@fws.gov
Phone Number: 802-868-4781
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Missisquoi Refuge is located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain near the Canadian border. This 6,729 acre refuge provides habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.
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  Wildlife Observation and Photography
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Another great way to see the refuge is to climb into your canoe, kayak, or boat and paddle an 11 mile loop, down the Missisquoi River, past Shad Island, then southeast along the shores of Gander and Goose Bays. Continue up Dead Creek to the Missisquoi River and back downstream to your launching point. Before launching, check with refuge headquarters for current boating conditions.

Paddling down the Missisquoi River is an adventure in itself, but an added treat awaits you where the river empties into Lake Champlain. Shad Island is home to the largest great blue heron rookery in Vermont. In shoreline trees, herons erect stick nests, often several per tree, and raise their young in a raucous congregation. The sight of these graceful, long-legged birds - most typically seen silently anchored to the water's edge - high up in the trees, squawking gutturally, regurgitating fish to their gangly young, will amply reward your paddling efforts. Please observe refuge signs. Some areas of the refuge are closed, including Shad Island to protect nesting birds and other wildlife. Please give basking turtles a wide berth so they may bask undisturbed.

Hints for Enjoying Your Visit

Take your binoculars. Most wildlife is wary of humans. Binoculars will help you get a close-up view without creating a disturbance.

Bring your field guides. Wildlife and wildflower identification books will help you learn the identities of some of the more common native flora and fauna. Inquire at the refuge office for loaner guides.

Start early and stay late. You are more likely to see wildlife activity if you take a walk early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Observe carefully. Remember, animals blend in with their surroundings. Walk slowly and look closely. Animals are unpredictable and not always seen.

Bring along insect repellent. Biting insects can be a nuisance during the summer months.

Stay on established trail. This helps prevent accidents and lessens environmental damage.

Watch for Poison ivy. It has three leaflets, is shiny, and is sometimes tinged red. It can be found as a woody vine covering the ground or clinging to trees. Although it is a nuisance to man, its berries are a valuable food source for many birds.

Dress appropriately. Trails are wet from April through June so shin-height boots are recommended. During these wet periods, traces of deer, raccoon and fox are often very visible.

Some Important Rules

Collecting of any kind and disturbing or feeding wildlife is against the law. Feeding wildlife is dangerous and prohibited.

The nature trails are open to walking only. No biking is allowed on trails.

The refuge is open to managed hunts during certain times of the year. A refuge hunt permit is required. A safety zone is established around the trails.

Dogs must be kept and controlled on a leash no longer than 10 feet.

Don't litter. Litter is ugly and no one wants to look at it. But there's another reason not to litter: animals may eat the garbage left on the ground, whether it is edible or not. Since most human litter is from food and food wrappings, the garbage smells like something to eat. Animals try to do so, but can become ill and may even die.

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