- Since original establishment of the refuge, the primary emphasis on waterfowl species has changed from ducks to the eastern prairie population of Canada geese. In the 1970's the numbers of Canada geese peaked at 150,000 to 200,000 annually.
The refuge lies in the floodplain of the Grand River near its confluence with the Missouri River. Recent years has seen numerous floods inundate Refuge lands. The Yellow Creek Research Natural Area is one of the few remaining areas of old growth bottomland hardwoods in this part of Missouri.