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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Created in 1987, Little River National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Little River's flood plain in McCurtain County. The federally controlled preserve protects wetlands and migratory birds, fish, and wildlife. In 1986–87 the Nature Conservancy purchased 6,083 acres and transferred it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish the sanctuary. Consisting of fifteen thousand acres in 2004, the refuge contains creeks, limestone cliffs, hardwood forest, oxbow lakes, and marshes. Little River is one of more than five hundred National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) in the nation. In 1907 Oklahoma's first NWR was established at the Wichita Mountains for bison.

Because it is the only known Oklahoma nesting site for the rare Swainson's warbler and is one of only a few places inhabited by wild alligators, Little River NWR attracts many nature lovers. The outdoor adventurer can hike, boat, bird-watch, and hunt. The bottomland hardwood forests lie in the Central Flyway, alluring migratory waterfowl. Numerous species of Oklahoma's wildlife inhabit the refuge, including beavers, swamp rabbits, gray squirrels, wild turkey, bald eagles, ducks, mallards, herons, egrets, a variety of warblers, twenty-nine different amphibians, and twenty-seven different snakes. Squirrels, rabbits, deer, turkeys, and waterfowl can be hunted seasonally under limited conditions.

Larry O'Dell


Russell D. Butcher, America's National Wildlife Refuges: A Complete Guide (Lanham, Md.: Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 2003).

Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 13 June 1987, 9 January 1997, and 31 March 2000.

William Palmer, Audubon Guide to the National Wildlife Refuges: South Central (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2000).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Larry O'Dell, “Little River National Wildlife Refuge,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=LI016.

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