No river, but Wolf River WMA does have a special tortoise

Published 9:16 am Friday, January 8, 2016

The first thing to know about the Wolf River Wildlife Management Area is, the name is wrong.

“The name is a little misleading,” said Josh Moree. “It is named Wolf River, but it’s nowhere near a river. But the actual Wolf River is farther south, near the coast.”

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Moree is the southwest region WMA biologist for the state, and said the area is a partnership between the state and the international paper giant, the Weyerhaeuser Company. 

“The state of Mississippi leases that property for a WMA,” he said. “That’s for the public to use for hunting and other outdoor recreation.”

The land is at the tiptop of the county—in fact, the part of the WMA extends into Lamar County—and all told, it’s 10,000 acres of mostly pine forest. Moree said it’s popular all year round with hunters, whether they’re hunting deer, rabbits raccoon or turkeys. 

Moree said he didn’t know right away how many visitors the WMA has per year, but he knows it’s popular. Each visitor, he said, counts as a “manday.”

“It’ll be anywhere from two-to-3,000 mandays for deer season alone,” he said. “Then you have small game hunters on top of that. Rabbit hunting is pretty popular out there, and you’ll have six-to-800 mandays for turkey season.”

Moree said hunting at the WMA isn’t much more work than hunting anywhere else in the state. 

“Anyone that’s going to be hunting would need a valid hunting license unless they’re exempt from having to get a license,” he said. 

In addition, interested hunters have to get a $15-per year WMA permit.

“And it can be bought anywhere that licenses are sold,” he said. “Sporting goods stores or on the website.”

Of course, the state welcomes visitors who want to do things besides hunt. 

The site is home to the gopher tortoise, a threatened species of dry land turtle. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the tortoise’s preferred habitat is well-drained sandy soils and longleaf pine habitat, which was once common in the southeast. 

Now, much of that habitat is gone, but Moree said the tortoise can still be seen at the Wolf River WMA.

“Most people in that part of the state are familiar with those so it’s not a big deal when they see those, but if someone does want to see a threatened species, they can see that there,” Moree said.

Folks can also spend the night, if they like. 

“We’re not set up for camping like our state parks are, but if someone does want to camp, we allow that,” he said. 

The primitive spot is just that—a bare patch for a tent or trailer. 

“There are no amenities,” Moree said. “It’s just primitive camping only, and a lot of people do use that. Some people do set up a tent or a trailer.”

Moree asks that visitors sign in to the area. 

“We require all visitors to fill out a daily visitor use card,” he said. These can be found near the entrance. 

The WMA is located at 971 Baxterville Road, and a map with driving instructions can be found at .

Or just Google Wolf River Wildlife Management Area.