17 Aug 10

By Nancy E. Hassel, LIPetPlace.com

A remarkable place on Long Island that has been around for just over 75 years but still not known by many LI suburbanites, is the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, (www.QuogueWildlifeRefuge.org), in Quogue, NY.  This is a magical place for little kids and big kids alike, and if you like nature, exploring and learning, you have to visit.  The refuge is one of the last few places you can still go to 7-days a week from sunrise to sunset and it is free.  This unspoiled beautiful piece of land is home to many native wild animals as well as a few from other countries. 

When you arrive you will be greeted by two African Spurred Tortoises that are housed next to one of the original buildings which now houses the Ice Harvesting Exhibit.  After you pass through the entrance gate, you will see animals that are there because they were injured or not legal to have as a pet, that now live their lives, in this place, with plenty of food.  All of these housed animals are all native to New York State.  There is a bald eagle which is very impressive to see so close, a beautiful bobcat, Red Fox, Red-tailed hawks and a few very cool hooting owls.  Beyond that are seven miles of nature trails which go from a deciduous forest environment to ecologically rare Dwarf Pines habitat, in which there are only 3 other places in the world, (yes in the world!), that has that eco-system.  Pretty impressive.  Along the trails you can see a cranberry bog, carnivorous plants, prickly pear cactus and the endangered Pink Lady Slipper orchid, all of these plants are native to LI.

There is a native butterfly garden to the right of the housed animals and The Nature Center Building to the left that is suspended over Old Ice Pond with a beautiful view.  You almost feel as if you are somewhere upstate in a secluded area.  The refuge also has daily camp programs, educational programs for children and adults, and many different animals, fish and snakes for your children to learn about.  They offer green birthday programs a unique twist on a kid’s birthday, and in the winter the refuge lends out snow shoes and cross country skies.  How cool is that?  In the spring, summer and fall months there are many different events including kayaking trips, full moon night hikes, and more.

In speaking with Marisa Nelson, the refuge’s Assistant Director, I asked her what she loves most about working in such a unique, beautiful place and she said, “That everyday here is different, and meeting people who come to learn and explore.  Also the change of seasons here, each season brings new beauty, something new to see and how the wildlife adapts to the changing conditions.”  

One thing important to know, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge is not a dumping ground for unwanted pets, or wild animals that were illegally owned. (They will not take them in)  It is also not a place to walk your dog or bicycle; there are plenty of other places to do that.  This is a place to come and explore on foot an incredible natural environment, see beautiful animals up close and learn more about this amazing Island we live on. 

The Quogue Wildlife Refuge is a non-for-profit organization and it is there obligation to serve as responsible land steward of the refuge property and its natural resources, as well as to promote, implement, support and assist environmental education and wildlife management. 

African Spurred Tortoises

See slideshow below for more pics!

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