Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is 38,601 acres of the Yazoo backwater area. The habitat is dominated by bottomland hardwood forest interspersed with sloughs, intermittent and permanent drains, and shallow depressions. Dominant forest species include Sweetgum, Nuttall Oak, Willow Oak, Water Hickory, and Overcup Oak with Cypress, Tupelo, Buttonbush, Swamp Privet, and Black Willow in the breaks and sloughs. Most of the refuge floods annually. Higher ground often supports a dense cover of Dwarf Palmetto in the understory. The refuge is basically a large block of hardwood forest, making it important to deep forest species.
The refuge presently supports a large breeding population of Prothonotary Warblers and Red-headed Woodpeckers. Woodland raptors are common in the winter, and Bald Eagles are attracted to the large wintering waterfowl populations. A large rookery adjacent to the refuge contains several species of wading birds, including substantial numbers of White Ibis. The refuge provides foraging habitat for these birds in the breeding and post-breeding seasons. Wood Storks are commonly seen on the refuge in the post-breeding season.
As a national wildlife refuge, the area will be managed by following a Comprehensive Conservation Plan, which gathers input from a wide spectrum of science and management professionals, especially migratory bird specialists. The plan will be updated every 15 years. The initial plan is now being formulated and offers a strong platform for keeping management practices current with the needs of priority species. Forest habitat, shrub-scrub, and grassland management techniques benefiting priority species will be a major thrust of the plan.