Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Protecting more than 27,000 acres of rich tidal marshes, mixed evergreen and deciduous forests, and freshwater ponds, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge provides sanctuary to 13 threatened and endangered species including the Bald Eagle
Nutria, beaver-like rodents native to South America, devastate marshes by digging underneath and overturning marsh plants to feed on their roots. The combined impact of nutria damage with a rising sea level is the rapid conversion of emergent marsh to open water, wiping out habitat needed by more than 250 bird species. Over 7,000 of the 17,000 acres of marsh within Blackwater NWR have been lost, and the refuge continues to lose between 500 and 1,000 acres of marsh each year to nutria damage.
Threat to Birds
Due to a downward population trend and increasing threats to its habitat, the Black Rail is listed on Audubon's nationwide WatchList. Due to dredging and filling of wetlands across much of the Black Rail's habitat, this species is in serious decline. At Blackwater Refuge, one of the last bastions of the imperiled Black Rail, invasive nutria are damaging and destroying marshlands needed to sustain and recover the species.