- The refuge was created in 1984 when Prudential Life Insurance Company donated 118,000 acres in Dare and Tyrell Counties to the Service. Additional lands have been added in the intervening years while the Tyrell County lands were transferred to Pocosin Lakes NWR.
The vast expanse of undisturbed swamp forest and wetlands on this 152,000 acre refuge contains many important wildlife and ecological resources. Since clear-cutting, peat mining, and agricultural conversion have developed much of the Pamlico Peninsula, this area remains one of the most remote and diverse swamps in eastern North Carolina. Natural communities include nonriverine swamp forests, pocosins, freshwater and brackish marshes. Its isolation and undisturbed quality add to the value of its rich wildlife habitats. The refuge is part of the northern border of the American alligator's range and remains as one of the last strongholds of the black bear in North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic coast. This diverse ecosystem provides important habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, many species of waterfowl, neotropical migrant songbirds, and many other wildlife species. The refuge serves as the core area for a bold experiment to reintroduce the red wolf back into the wild.
Climate - Winter daytime temperatures average above 44 degrees Fahrenheit (7 Celsius). Summer daytime temperatures range above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius). The state has a fairly wet climate with an average precipitation for this area averaging 48 to 52 inches (122 to 132 centimeters).
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge lies at the eastern end of a broad, flat and swampy peninsula in northeastern North Carolina. The refuge lies in the mainland portion of Dare County and Hyde counties and is within a five county region bounded on the north by Albemarle Sound, on the east by Croatan and Pamlico Sounds,and on the south by Pamlico Sound and Pamlico River.