Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge Home To Many Species, Site For Great Florida Birding Trail

By  //  September 12, 2016

over 500 species of proected wildlife

ABOVE VIDEO: The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is the home of the Kennedy Space Center. The 140,000 acres of land are in permanent protection and provide visitors with fantastic views and adventures. (Visit Florida)

BREVARD COUNTY • MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA –The Merritt Island National refuge traces its beginnings to the development of the nation’s Space Program.

In 1962, NASA acquired 140,000 acres of land, water, and marshes adjacent to Cape Canaveral to establish the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

NASA built a launch complex and other space-related facilities, but development of most of the area was not necessary. In 1963 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed an agreement to establish the refuge and in 1975 a second agreement established Canaveral National Seashore.

Today, the Department of Interior manages most of the unused portions of the Kennedy Space Center as a National Wildlife Refuge and National Seashore.

The refuge manages habitat for over 500 species of wildlife. These habitats support one of the highest numbers of endangered and threatened species found within the National Wildlife Refuge system.

The Merritt Island Wildlife National Refuge possesses some of the largest alligators in the state of Florida. (NASA Image)

The refuge’s coastal location, tropic-like climate, and wide variety of habitat types contribute to the refuge’s diverse bird population. To date, 358 species have been identified on the refuge.

More than 140 species of freshwater and saltwater fish are known to use refuge impoundments, estuaries, and freshwater wetlands. Fish within the refuge are important to the ecology of the area and recreation.

The habits of the refuge include wetlands (both salt and fresh water), upland shrubland, wetland forest, mesic and upland forest, and beach and dune.

Interpretive Canoe Trip Set Sept. 21 On Historic Sykes Creek In Merritt IslandRelated Story:
Interpretive Canoe Trip Set Sept. 21 On Historic Sykes Creek In Merritt Island

Exotic, invasive, and nuisance plant and animal species is one of the priority management issues for the Merritt Island NWR. Nuisance animal species have a negative impact on threatened and endangered species.

Adult alligators are apex predators critical to the biodiversity of habitats and wetland ecosystems and can be found in many areas of the Refuge.