Wildlife refuges protect some of the River’s most vital habitats, like the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, the longest river refuge in the United States. It alone hosts 119 species of fish! Disappearing habitat has put 40 animals on the endangered species list, including the Louisiana black bear and the sturgeon pallid fish (one of the largest freshwater fish in the United States), shown here on the right.
The Mississippi River valley is one of Earth’s great migration corridors. It’s a flyway that provides birds with direction, resting places and food. Songbirds that winter in Central and South America and 60% of North America’s ducks, geese, swans and wading birds rely on the Mississippi River during their epic seasonal migrations. In fact, the longest migration route in the Western Hemisphere, which goes from the Arctic coast of Alaska to Patagonia in Argentina, includes the Mississippi River in-between.
Development, pollution and structural changes like locks and dams have changed the River, destroying much of its ecological vitality. Poor water quality and loss of habitat are limiting the River’s ability to support life. Plant and animal species are declining dramatically.
What is the solution?
Protect the River as a habitat, volunteer for habitat restoration programs and get involved in local projects to clean up and restore the River. Reducing the fertilizers and pesticides we use at home can prevent pollution entering the River and threatening wildlife health.
For more information on Mississippi River wildlife watch the video on the right side of this page or visit the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.