Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge protects a unique wetland habitat. It protects the pocosin. It is a type of wetland that has deep, acidic peat and sandy soils. The soil is saturated with groundwater except for when drought hits. Pocosin soils lack the necessary nutrients, such as phosphorus. The refuge is in eastern North Carolina and covers 152,000 acres of land. It is along the Atlantic Coast.
It is most popular for the red wolf, a species that lives in the region.
The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is in Dare and Hyde Counties.
The red wolf was once a common sight in the Outer Banks. Their numbers decreased in the 19th century due to intensive predator control programs. Their habitat was also degraded and altered in a bid to get rid of them. In 1967, the red wolf was placed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act. It was stated that the species was threatened with extinction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought to conserve and recover the species.
The species is a native of North America. Its size is between that of a coyote and gray wolf. Their fur is brown and buff colored. There is some black on their backs with a reddish hue on their legs, head and ears. The red wolf has tall pointed ears, wide heads and broad muzzles. They also have slender legs and wide feet.
In the wild, red wolves lived in southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana. Their habitat consists of marsh and coastal prairie.
Wings Over Water
This is a yearly fundraising event for the refuge. It is sponsored by Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society. The event provides funds for schools and educational grants. It supports maintenance projects in refuge structures.
The event started in 1997. It began as a way of encouraging wildlife protection and educational opportunities. It has influenced the experiences and interpretation of many over the years. It has raised awareness of regional national wildlife refuges. Now, it supports art and natural history programs.
There is a Wings Over Water Encore that specializes in birds. It is held in December because of the cold season. The hope is to see more migratory birds in this time.
Tours and Programs
There are many incredible things to do and see at the refuge center. These include;
1. Alligator River Refuge Saturday Tram Tours
This is a trip scheduled for specific dates. The dates are on the official website.
It involves a tour around the refuge with an instructor. Participants are taught about the wildlife and the land. The drive is entertaining as there is a lot to see. You will need to make reservations before the tour.
Charges include; $10 for those above the age of 13. Children under 12 years can access the tour for free, provided they are accompanied by a paying adult.
2. Alligator River Refuge Saturday Red Wolf Howling
This tour does not require reservations.
The staff and volunteers at the refuge provide an exciting experience for visitors. You will learn about the endangered red wolf. The experience involves a short presentation and a chance to hear the red wolf howling in the wild. Pets are not allowed.
Charges include; $10 for those above 13 years. It is free for children under 12 provided they are with a paying adult.
3. Alligator River Refuge Van Tour
Reservations are required for this tour. It takes place from Wednesdays to Fridays. The time of the tour is between 7 and 9 a.m. or 5 to 7 p.m. There is a limit of 5 riders for each tour.
The tour involves a drive through the refuge. It offers unique wildlife viewing and chances for photography. The drive stops at any chance that wildlife is spotted.
Charges are $30 for those 13 years and over. Children under 12 are charged $20.
4. Pea Island Refuge Bird Walk
This takes place all year on Fridays. It is offered between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
5. School and Group Tours
6. Preschool Young Naturalist Program
eBird Trail Tracker
This is an interactive program that allows citizens to participate in ornithology. Participants take photographs of birds they see on their walk. They then upload them to the online tracker. It allows bird lovers to gain more information on the birds they encounter.
Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges participate in the trail tracker. The program was organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Creef Cut Wildlife Trail
This trail offers a half-mile walk for all people. It is easily accessible and allows hikers to enjoy the wild at their pace. Information on what you may see and experience can be found at the kiosk at the trailhead. There are many habitats and wildlife to be viewed. The walk is linked to South Lake. The lake provides an abundance of freshwater fish, bluegill and crappie for fishing. You will need a state fishing license to fish at South Lake.
The trail is filled with informative signs that direct you on where to go. You can view waterfowl and raptors from an overlook of the Creef Moist Soil management area. All pets need to be put on a leash in the refuge and trails.
Remember to carry insect repellent. Some seasons bring biting flies to the refuge.
Family -Friendly Fun for all Ages
The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge offers various animals in their natural habitats. There are many species that roam around the refuge waiting to be explored. It offers knowledge on soils, animals, birds, and fish among many others. The refuge is home to several endangered and threatened species. It helps keep nature balanced and maintains these species for future generations. The red wolf is a magnificent sighting and its howls can be heard all over the refuge.
It is a family-friendly location that people of all ages are sure to enjoy. The refuge also offers many educational and informative programs for all ages. It preserves and conserves the environment, together with all it comes with.