Love wildlife? Did you know there are eight national wildlife refuges in South Carolina that are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? Wildlife refuges are great, educational places to visit to learn about local wildlife, plants and fish. Let’s check out a few of these wildlife refuges that you can visit this fall in South Carolina.
Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge
Cape Romain is located just outside of Charleston. It includes 66,267 acres of barrier islands, beaches, maritime forests, coastal waterways and salt marshes. The diverse ecosystem is home to a number of unique plant and animal species, including 277 species of migratory birds. Other wildlife of interest is the loggerhead sea turtle, alligators, black fox squirrel and the rare red wolf. There is even a ferry that can take you to Bulls Island for hiking, animal watching and collecting shells (limit one small bag of shells per person).
Santee Wildlife Refuge
The Santee Wildlife Refuge sits on the shore of Lake Marion, the largest lake in the state. This refuge is a major wintering area for waterfowl and a stop-over for neotropical migratory birds, shore birds, wading birds and raptors. Of particular interest for bird watchers is the Painted Bunting that frequents the area. The refuge features educational exhibits, walking trails and wildlife observation areas. In this refuge, you’ll find 300 species of birds, 54 reptile species, 45 mammal species and more than 100 species of fish.
Carolina Sandhills Wildlife Refuge
This refuge is located in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. It encompasses 45,348 acres with more than 140 miles of paved, sandy and graveled roads. The refuge features hunting, fishing, bird watching, three main recreation areas and multiple trails for walking and biking. This refuge is home to one of the largest varieties of wildflowers (flower picking or removal of plants is prohibited). The refuge is also home to over 200 species of birds, deer, wild turkeys, woodcocks, Northern bobwhite quail and the largest population of the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker in the state.
Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge
The Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge is located near Myrtle Beach. It features four tracts accessible by car that weave through forested wetlands, longleaf pine forests and freshwater tidal marshes. Common species of note in this refuge include black bears, vixen red foxes, Swallow-tailed kites, alligators and the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
To learn more about these and the other four refuges in the state, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website at https://www.fws.gov/refuges/. The other four refuges not covered here are all located coastally and south of Charleston. Need something educational and fun to do this fall? Visit some of our state wildlife refuges and join us in conserving and learning about the amazing animals and plants of South Carolina.