Wildlife Preserve on the Alligator River

On March 14, 1984, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was established on mainland Dare and Hyde counties to protect and preserve the forested wetland habitat called “pocosin” and its associated wildlife species.

In the late 1970s, biologists were growing concerned by the rapid loss of wetlands in eastern North Carolina as pocosins were drained and old-growth cypress and Atlantic white cedar trees were destroyed for logging and farming operations. Several conservation organizations and state and federal agencies worked together to preserve these fragile wetlands.

The Prudential Life Insurance Company donated the refuge’s first 118,000 acres, and congressional appropriations eventually allowed it to expand to the more than 150,000 acres it covers today. The preserved area is bordered by the Alligator River and Intracoastal Waterway; Albemarle Sound; Croatan and Pamlico sounds; and the Long Shoal River and corporate farmlands.

In 1986, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated the Red Wolf Recovery Program to reestablish the endangered red wolf population in the wild. Today, about 100 red wolves roam the refuge. It is also an important habitat for black bear, American alligators, river otters and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Two hundred species of birds have been recorded in the refuge.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has also launched a number of projects designed to restore habitat and monitor wildlife populations, including restoring historic water levels, banding wood ducks on the refuge and replanting Atlantic white cedars.

The refuge is open to the public year-round for hiking, kayaking, photography, birding, fishing and hunting in season.

Visit: Accessible throughout Dare and Hyde Counties, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge‘s visitor center in Manteo is great place to discover all there is explore.

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