- Grand Cote NWR was established in 1989 to provide valuable waterfowl habitat in the Mississippi/Red River floodplain ecosystem. Although the refuge was once part of a vast bottomland hardwood wilderness, its topography was vastly changed in the 1980's to create a rice farming plantation.
When the plantation failed financially, the Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the land--mostly for its superior water control capability. Agriculture fields cover about half the refuge lands. Other habitats include bottomland hardwood forest (most recently reestablished), bayous, willow sloughs, open marsh, and small ponds. This variety of vegetative communities supports a diversity of wildlife.
Due to its location in east-central Louisiana, the refuge is served by the Mississippi and Central Flyways. Although mallards, northern pintails, and wood ducks are the most numerous waterfowl species on the refuge, blue- and green-winged teal, northern shovelers, gadwall, and American widgeon are also common. Few diving ducks are observed. Large numbers of geese (mostly snow and greater white-fronted) winter on Grand Cote.
Several hundred native species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fishes, and insects are found on the refuge. Common, though often difficult to see, species include bobcats, alligators, red and grey foxes, mink, and otter. More frequently encountered are white-tailed deer, raccoons, fox squirrels, beaver, marsh hawks, shorebirds, and wading birds. Many neotropical migratory songbirds use the refuge at various times. Refuge fisheries are limited to narrow bayous and are composed largely of gar, crappie, bowfin, bream species, buffalo, carp, and catfish.
Endangered species numbers are few and their presence is always marked with special interest. The arctic peregrine falcon and bald eagle are occasional visitors.
The Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge is located in east-central Louisiana