Working for Wildlife
Protecting, conserving, and enhancing our nation's priceless fish and wildlife resources are the primary responsibilities of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service oversees marine mammal protection, wildlife law enforcement , migratory species protection, ecological and wildlife assistance to other agencies, states and nations.
Florida manatees are protected!
All coastal National Wildlife Refuges provide excellent manatee habitat and good places to view manatee in their natural habitat.
Mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System ...Wildlife First
· Managing a national network of lands and waters for fish, wildlife and plants.
· Conserving and restoring wildlife habitats and ecosystems
· Maintaining biological integrity, diversity and environmental health
· Protecting migratory birds
· Providing wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation opportunities for the public
· Providing environmental education and outreach
Visit the J. N. "Ding" Darling NWR
The J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge was created to protect and enhance feeding, nesting, and roosting areas for migratory birds, to protect endangered and threatened species and to protect the pristine wildlife habitat of Sanibel Island.
The refuge is known for its abundant bird life. The best months to visit for birding are December through March. It's always best to coordinate a visit around a low tide when the birds are feeding on the exposed mud flats.
Visit the "Ding" Darling Education Center, the refuge's visitor center, to experience interactive exhibits on refuge ecosystem, habitat management, bird identification, endangered species, invasive species, water quality, migratory flyways, the National Wildlife Refuge, "Ding" Darling the man and wildlife art. The Center also houses an environmental education lab, a children's activity area and a book store. The Center is open daily except most federal holidays.
The Wildlife Drive, a 4-mile multiple-use, one-way road, is open Saturday through Thursday. Opening and closing times vary by season; please call for exact times. The Drive is closed every Friday to all access. The entrance is located at the Education Center parking lot. Entrance fees are $5 per vehicle and $1 per walker/biker over 15 years of age. Federal entrance passes and current year's Federal Duck Stamps are accepted and may be purchased at the entrance gate.
Other refuge sites open daily, call for details: Indigo Trail, Bailey Tract and Tarpon Bay Recreation Area.
Whether you choose to tour the wildlife refuge by tram, kayak, canoe, bike, pontoon boat or you own vehicle, you will not be disappointed with the "Ding" Darling NWR!
Directions: From Manatee Park, take I-75 south Exit 131 (Daniels Pky.), go west and follow signs to Sanibel Island, then follow signs to refuge. Approximate travel time is 1 hour.
For more information visit us online at www.fws.gov/dingdarling
Or call (239)472-1100.