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Patuxent National Wildlife Research Refuge - BirdForum Opus

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"Research Is Our Mission"

Established in 1936 by executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Patuxent Research Refuge is the Nation's only National Wildlife Refuge established to support wildlife research. Today most of the research on the refuge is conducted by the US Geological Survey (USGS) through the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

With land surrounding the Patuxent and Little Patuxent Rivers between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, the Refuge has grown from the original 2,670 acres to its present size of 12,841 acres and encompasses land formerly managed by the Departments of Agriculture and Defense. Throughout decades of change, Patuxent's mission of conserving and protecting the nation's wildlife and habitat through research and wildlife management techniques has remained virtually unchanged.

Patuxent National Wildlife Research Refuge is operated by the U.S. government's Fish and Wildlife Service. It is located on a plot of land in central Maryland and was established for the purpose of conducting research related to preserving endangered species.

Patuxent NWR was where, in the 1970s, studies were conducted that determined that the pesticide DDT was responsible for the precipitous drops in the populations of Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons and other bird species. In addition, Patuxent NWR is also instrumental in the preservation of the Whooping Crane.

Patuxent NWR is reportedly the largest block of undeveloped land on the east coast between Boston and North Carolina.


Notable Species

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Birds you can see here include:

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Other Wildlife

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Site Information

History and Use

From GORP: No other national wildlife refuge is like it; nor is there another that is comparable to it in the entire world. Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland is unique, to say the least. Established almost 60 years ago, Patuxent has seen several changes in name and a tripling of its original size, but its purpose has remained the same: to support wildlife research.

Areas of Interest

Patuxent Research Refuge is divided into three areas:

  • North Tract, which offers hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, trails, and many interpretive programs
  • Central Tract, where the offices and study sites of the many research biologists are located at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
  • South Tract, where the National Wildlife Visitor Center and its trails are located. The National Wildlife Visitor Center and North Tract are the only areas open for visitor activities.

Access and Facilities

The South Tract of Patuxent NWR contains the National Visitor Center for the US government's Fish and Wildlife Service. The Visitor Center has a museum with numerous interpretive displays and dioramas that show visitors the avifauna of the area. The Visitor Center also includes hands-on displays and an observation window with spotting scopes for viewing the wildlife in the lake that adjoins the building. In addition, outdoor microphones allow visitors to hear the sounds of nature that exist outside of the building walls.

Contact Details

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Patuxent Research Refuge, 230 Bald Eagle Drive, Laurel MD 20724-3000
  • Phone: (301) 497-5662
  • Fax: (301) 497-5666

External Links