- The refuge was established in 1958 and contains a little over 6,500 acres. Vegetation on the refuge consists primarily of lowland hardwood forest which is subject to annual flooding from Catahoula Lake. Several natural cypress shaded bayous and brakes add diversity throughout the forest. The Justiss field unit contains several hundred acres of old farm fields which provide habitat for grassland species.
White-tailed deer, small game mammals, songbirds, raptors and waterbirds are commonly seen throughout the refuge. An interesting variety of reptiles and amphibians from alligators to cricket frogs also inhabit the refuge.
Waterfowl, primarily mallards, are abundant during the winter period. Peak waterfowl populations of 75,000 ducks have been recorded. The Duck Lake impoundment was constructed in the 1970's to provide additional management capabilities for waterfowl management.
The refuge borders nine miles of the northeast shoreline of Catahoula Lake. This 26,000 acre Wetland of International Importance is a historic concentration area for shorebirds, waterbirds and migrating/wintering waterfowl.
Catahoula Refuge also borders a portion of the Dewey Wills Wildlife Management Area. Together, these three areas provide a haven for wildlife and preserve representative samples of the unique habitats originally found in the Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem.
Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge is located in LaSalle and Catahoula Parishes, approximately 25 miles northeast of Alexandria.