Fort Bragg is one of the largest United States military installations in the world. Comprising around 150,000 acres, Bragg is home to Soldiers, Families and an abundance of wildlife.
The wildlife at Fort Bragg is extremely varied. From fish, deer, birds, a rare woodpecker and an even rarer butterfly, Bragg wildlife is world-class. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be writing about wildlife and wildlife management at Fort Bragg as well as hunting and regulations on post.
Fort Bragg Wildlife Branch
The Fort Bragg Wildlife Branch is responsible for the management of wildlife at Fort Bragg.
For example, earlier this year, Simmons Lake was drained and the Wildlife Branch was able to relocate over 1,000 fish from the lake. Before the lake refills, the Wildlife Branch is working to clean up the shoreline and add fish habitats.
The Fort Bragg Wildlife Branch is part of the Directorate of Public Works. I’ll be discussing their role at Fort Bragg in greater detail when I write about hunting on post next week.
Birds
You get the usual suspects here like Canada geese and mourning doves and little songbirds, but there are more.
Wood ducks are the most common waterfowl at Fort Bragg, according to the Fort Bragg Wildlife Branch website. Mallards, green-winged teal, hooded mergansers and ring necked ducks are counted among the waterfowl species on the installation.
The Wildlife Management Office helps to maintain the wood duck nesting boxes found at various ponds and waterways around Fort Bragg. These boxes were installed with the help of the Fort Bragg Chapter of Ducks Unlimited and local Boy Scouts.
Quail and turkey are also found in the area.
The most famous bird by far at Fort Bragg, however, is the red cockaded woodpecker. This small black and white bird is classified as a near threatened species, and the Wildlife Management Branch at Fort Bragg has worked hard to maintain the population on the installation.
These woodpeckers thrive in areas of the forest where there is little to no brush. Part of the conservation efforts at Fort Bragg is to help clear out the brush areas around the longleaf pines they enjoy.
They are pretty rare to spot. Fort Bragg has several other species of woodpecker, and people often confuse red-headed woodpeckers for red cockaded woodpeckers. The truth is, the red on the red cockaded woodpecker is only visable on males, and it is a small section of feathers above the bird’s cheek.
Fish
My husband likes to comment on how this area of the country is just one giant swamp. He’s partially right, and because it is so swampy around here, it is a great place to find fish.
Largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish of several varieties and sunfish are all available. The Fort Bragg Wildlife Branch works hard to maintain fish populations and habitats around the post.
Deer and rodents
White tailed deer are abundant, with archery season starting in mid-September.
Raccoons and squirrels call the installation home, and a healthy population of beavers live in the rivers and swampy ponds. Rabbits can also occasionally be seen.
Insects
Of course you’re going to find swarms of mosquitoes in the area, but more noteworthy is the Saint Francis Satyr butterfly. Its only known population exists at Fort Bragg.
Dark brown in color, the butterfly lives in abandoned beaver dams. They can’t survive in areas with a lot of flooding.
Conservation efforts for this population of butterflies at Fort Bragg has included mimicking beaver dams, their preferred habitat.
The adult lifespan of this butterfly is three to four days. There are two times a year that they can be seen on post. The last week of May and the last week of July are when they emerge from their cocoons and take flight.
The Fort Bragg Wildlife Branch takes care of the wild residents of the military installation. Through conservation efforts and hunting and fishing management, they have helped the wild populations of Fort Bragg flourish.