Important Bird Areas

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area

South Carolina

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area is a state owned property dedicated primarily to waterfowl hunting. It contains 5,385 acres of managed impoundments at 27 sites. There is also 5,005 acres of tidal marsh and 404 acres of cultivated land growing food plots. There are 1,227 acres of mixed forest. Bear Island is managed to provide quality waterfowl habitat and to protect local endangered and migratory non-game species. Public recreational opportunities are provided for hunting, nature observation and fishing.
The website is https://www.dnr.sc.gov/mlands/managedland?p_id=56

Ornithological Summary

Bear Island is a major wintering area for waterfowl as well as an important shorebird area during migration. It is also an important nesting area for Bald Eagles and a foraging area for wading birds including Wood Stork, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Tri-colored Heron, White Ibis and Glossy Ibis. Concentrations of migratory shorebirds include Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Dowitcher and Common Snipe. Shorebird concentrations are noted during times of pond drawdown associated with the waterfowl management program.

Conservation Issues

No current threats.

Ownership

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area is owned by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Habitat

Impoundments on the property are managed for widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima), saltmarsh bulrush (Scirpus robustus) and other Scirpus species. The tidal marsh is dominated by smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), giant cordgrass (Spartin cynosuroides), and black needlerush (Juncus romerianus). The upland areas are dominated by mixed southern hardwoods and pines and a smattering of agricultural fields planted as food plots.

Land Use

Land use at Bear Island is focused on wildlife management particularly for attracting and hunting waterfowl. Area is open to the public for hunting in a very controlled manner during the winter. Agriculture is for food plots to supplement the natural wild food. Fishing and bird watching are minor activities throughout the year.