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KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
PARKS AND RECREATION

EASTERN NECK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Map of Eastern Neck
Click here for enlarged map.

What's There?

The Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (ENNWR), administered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, is a 2285 acre major feeding and resting place for migratory and wintering waterfowl at the mouth of the Chester River in Kent County, Maryland on Maryland's "Eastern Shore". It offers unsurpassed opportunity to bird watchers. It has six miles of roads and trails open for hiking most of the year.

The Kent County Department of Parks and Recreation operates the Ingleside Recreation Area, under a cooperative agreement with the US Fish & Wildllife Service, from May 1 to September 30, with facilities for crabbing and car-top boat launching. Picnic tables are available. Crabbing is done off Ingleside and fishing is possible at the entrance to the park from the bridge spanning the Eastern Neck Narrows. Crabbing boats and equipment are offered commercially just north of the bridge. A boat launching ramp is located at Bogles Wharf Landing for those with county launching permits.

The ENNWR includes 1000 acres of brackish marsh, 600 acres of cropland, 500 acres of forest, 100 acres of grassland and 40 acres of open water impoundments and is home to 3 threatened and/or endangered species of birds. Mammals at the refuge include white-tailed deer, beaver, red fox, raccoons, muskrat, opossum, woodchuck, eastern gray squirrel and the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel.

The Bird Watching's Great!

Hooded Merganser

Hooded merganser picture

©Heather R. Davidson
Click here for enlarged picture


The fall and spring months are the best times to view migratory birds. The Refuge Manager has a brochure that is available on request listing the 243 species that have been recorded on the refuge plus 5 accidental species. Each bird type is characterized according to its relative abundance for each of the seasons.



Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan

©Heather R. Davidson
Click here for enlarged picture

The period of October through mid-March is the best time for viewing the thousands of migratory waterfowl that winter in the Chesapeake Bay, with November to January the best of the season. Over 40,000 waterfowl have been documented on the refuge, including 32 species. The most common include Canada geese (20,000+), tundra swan (7,000+), canvasbacks (15,000+), mallards, wigeons, black ducks, lesser scaups, buffleheads, pintails, green-and-blue winged teal and redheads. The presence of oldsquaw, white winged scoters and other sea ducks provide for an interesting diversity of species.


Canada Goose

Picture of Canada Goose

©Heather R. Davidson

Great blue and green-backed herons are common in the marshes and tidal mud flats. Numerous marsh and shore birds arrive in the spring and can be observed through the fall. Threatened southern bald eagles, our national symbol, are also found on the refuge, have nested and successfully fledged eaglets every year since 1986.

There is a boardwalk leading to an observation tower overlooking calfpasture cove three quarters of a mile south of the entrance bridge, with parking and restrooms.

 

Wildlife Calendar

    January-April

    Bald Eagle

    Picture of Bald Eagle

    ©Heather R. Davidson
    Click here for enlarged picture

    Waterfowl are abundant through the month of March. Bald eagles are nest building in January and laying eggs through February. The eaglets begin hatching in April. Great horned owls begin nest building in January and lay eggs through mid-April. Hatching may begin in late February. Woodcock may be seen performing their courtship displays in February and egg hatching begins in April. Blue-and green -winged teal migrate through the area in April, and resident ducks begin incubating their eggs.




    May-August

    Osprey Feeding Young

    Picture of Osprey Feeding Young

    ©Heather R. Davidson


    Songbird northern migration peaks in late April-early May. Woodcock chicks and deer fawns are born and osprey eggs begin to hatch in May. In June young eagles and great horned owls are learning to fly. Eagles and blue birds fledge in July. In August ospreys may start their migration south while blue-winged teal, the earliest waterfowl migrants, begin to arrive from their northern breeding grounds.


    September-December

    Songbird southern migration peaks in late September-October. Waterfowl numbers gradually increase and great horned owls begin to establish territories in October. Waterfowl populations peak in November. Bald eagles establish territories and start nest building in December.

Enjoy Hiking and Wildlife Observation?

Nearly six miles of roads and trails are open to visitors most of the year. Three wildlife trails and a handicap-accessible boardwalk and observation tower are available for those wishing to observe the varied habitats of the refuge. Insect repellent is highly recommended.

How do You Get There?

From Chestertown, the county seat of Kent County, Maryland, take highway 20 into Rock Hall. Turn left at the intersection of highway 20 and Main Street (which is also State Route 445). Continue south on 445 until you cross a bridge. That is the entrance to the park.

Click here to get a map.

Like to Hunt?

Public Hunting of white-tailed deer is permitted on Eastern Neck Refuge on specific days that are annually designated by the refuge manager in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

General Regulations and Information

  • Camping, off-road vehicles and fires are prohibited.
  • Firearms are prohibited except under permit during the refuge hunting season.
  • Pets must be on a hand-held leash.
  • Artifact hunting is not allowed. If you find any artifacts, leave the object in place and report its location to the refuge staff.
  • Ticks, chiggers and mosquitos are abundant. The use of a repellent is highly recommended.

Hunting Regulations and Information

  • Only persons posessing a refuge permit and appropriate state hunting license are authorized to be on the refuge during a hunting day.
  • Hunting permitees will be chosen by first come, first served (see permit information).
  • All hunters must enter and leave by state road 445. Entry by boat is prohibited.
  • Use of boats during hunts is prohibited.
  • Motorized vehicles are restricted to designated roads and parking areas.
  • Certain areas of the refuge are safety zones, clearly posted with "No Hunting Zone" signs.
  • Hunting and loaded weapons are prohibited from paved or gravel roads or parking lots.
  • All hunters must wear in a conspicuous manner on head, chest and back a minimum of 400 sq. inches of solid colored fluorescent orange clothing or material. Camoflage orange is not permitted.
  • Only contained-fire cooking devices are permitted and those are restricted to parking areas.
  • Only temporary portable stands that do not damage trees may be used.
  • All materials used to mark trails to and from stands must be removed at the end of the hunt day. Paint for marking is prohibited.
  • Use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited.
  • Scouting will be permitted only on designated scouting days as specified by the refuge manager. No check-in or check-out is required. Firearms are not allowed on the refuge while scouting. Only participants possessing authorized permits will be allowed to scout. Hunters using this privilege must display their permits visibly on the dashboard of their vehicle.

Youth Hunting

One day each year is set aside for youth hunters. This hunt is for youths 10 through 15 years of age as of the day of the hunt. Each youth must have taken a hunter safety course, have a valid hunting license and be accompanied by a responsible adult. Shotgun, archery, or muzzleloader are permitted. For further information, please contact: Hunt Coordinator, Allen Johnston, ENNWR Hunts, 2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, Maryland 21613, 410-228-2692 x 120. Or you may contact the refuge office at 1730 Eastern Neck Road, Rock Halll, Maryland 21661, 410-639-7056.

During Hunt Days

Deer Buck

Picture of Deer Buck

©Heather R. Davidson
Click here for enlarged picture

  • All hunters must check in at the refuge check station before hunting. The check station will be open at approximately 1 1/2 hours before sunrise. Permit holders not checking in by sunrise will forfeit their permits to standby hunters.
  • Alternates will be selected by random drawing for those permits made available by permit holders who do not check in by sunrise. Standby hunters will be required to pay a daily fee of $10 per person.
  • While hunting, your refuge permit must be on your person.
  • Hunting hours are from sunrise to sunset.
  • All deer killed must be field-tagged and brought to the refuge check station. Deer taken at Eastern Neck Refuge are bonus deer that do count against your state limit.
  • Daily bag limit: two deer, one of which must be anterless. Season bag limit: two deer, one of which must be anterless.
  • All hunters must turn in their permits at the check station when ending their hunt or leaving the refuge.
  • Pets are prohibited.

Permit Information

  • All hunters must obtain a permit regardless of age. Permits are non-transferrable. Applications for permits may be requested by phone or by written request to:

    Hunt Coordinator
    Allen Johnston, ENNWR Hunts
    2145 Key Wallace Drive
    Cambridge, Maryland 21613
    410-228-2692 x 120

    or

    Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge
    1730 Eastern Neck Road
    Rock Hall, Maryland 21661
    410-639-7056

  • A non-refundable application fee of $10 per person is required and must accompany each application. Golden Age and Golden Access Passsport holders will be charged an application fee of $5. The deadline for receipt of Permit applications falls in early September, as indicated on the application itself.
  • Permittees will be selected by first come, first serve. Both permittees and persons not selected will be notified as soon as possible after the drawing.
  • Group applications of up to five persons are allowed; each group will be treated as a single application. Each person in the group must submit an application and application fee, but they should be stapled together, with the designated group leader's application first, and submitted together.
  • Duplicate applications are not allowed and will result in all of the applicant's applications being declared ineligible!
  • Disabled Hunters

    • Only permanently disabled, non-ambulatory hunters may qualify for the special non-ambulatory hunt. A state-issued "Hunt from Vehicle" permit is required. Only permanently disabled non-ambulatory hunters are accomodated during this special hunt for safety reasons.
    • Non-ambulatory hunters are encouraged to bring along a non-hunting partner . Only the disabled hunter will be allowed to possess a weapon and hunt.
    • All other disabled hunters who may qualify for special accomodations must contact the hunt coordinator in advance.

    An Important Message to Hunters

    Hunting on a national wildlife refuge is a privilege and your behavior while participating on an Eastern Neck Refuge hunt may affect future hunting on refuges. The refuge provides habitat for several endangered and threatened species. Federal and State laws prohibit any activity that might harm endangered or threatened plants and animals. These hunts can be conducted without harming any endangered species and the hunt coordinator has taken certain precautions to ensure this. The refuge management cannot, however, prevent irresponsible acts by hunters, and if such acts do occur, they may be forced to disontinue the hunts. The following endangered and/or threatened species may be found on the refuge:

    • Bald eagle
    • Delmarva fox squirrel

    REMEMBER! Your hunt permit authorizes you to take specified game only. Harming or needlessly disturbing any other wildlife, including any birds, other mammals, turtles, frogs, lizards and even poisonous snakes, is a violation of refuge regulations and is cause for prosecution.


    The History of Eastern Neck Island

    • Prehistoric Times

      During the time of the last great ice sheet 10,000 years ago, Eastern Neck Island was not an island at all. Native Americans may have paused here while hunting to look out over a wide forested valley to the west. There, the Susquehanna River was carving through fine-grained deposits placed by melt waters and wind during earlier glacial cycles on its long way to the sea. The Atlantic Ocean's shore at that time was 200 miles east of its present location.

    • Early Inhabitants

      As the last glacier melted, sea levels slowly rose. Sea waters swallowed up the Atlantic coastal plain and drowned the river valley. By 4,000 years ago the ancient hunters would not have even recognized the area where their descendants, the Woodland Period Indians, now fished and gathered shellfish from the brackish waters of Chesapeake Bay. After the Woodland people began to settle down and cultivate crops at inland sites around 1300 A.D., they still used the island as a seasonal foraging area. They left behind huge mounds of discarded oyster shells, called middens, as well as pottery pieces, stone tools, and arrowheads, as evidence of their presence.

      When Captain John Smith explored this area in 1608, he made contact with the Ozinie Indians, who were related to the Algonquin-speaking Nanticokes. This tribe was noted for their exceptional beadwork made from shells. In less than 100 years after this first contact, the Indians living in the area had all been killed by introduced diseases, warfare with Europeans, or warfare between tribes as various displaced groups sought new territories.

    • European Settlement

      From 1658 to 1680, Colonel Joseph Wickes and his partner Thomas Hynson were granted tracts until they owned all of Eastern Neck Island. Joseph Wickes built a home, " Wickliffe",(location shown on the refuge map as" Wicke's Historic Site") one of the finest mansions of the time. He made his living by raising tobacco and other crops and exporting them on ships built at the family's shipyard. For a time, the island may have been the County seat, for Wickes was Chief Justice of Kent County. "Hail Point" was named because it was a place where all ships coming and going on the Chester River could be seen and hailed to enforce shipping regulations. In 1675 the settlement of "New Yarmouth" was established just north of Eastern Neck Island at Gum Point. This town became the county seat until 1696, when the county government moved to the fast-growing port of Chestertown.

    • The American Revolution

      Joseph Wickes' most famous descendent was his grandson, Captain Lambert Wickes, the first navy officer named by Congress in 1776 to carry the American flag in European waters. During the Revolutionary War he terrorized British shipping, capturing at least twenty-eight " prizes". He also carried Benjamin Franklin to France aboard his flagship, the Reprisal, when Franklin was trying to gain French support for the American Revolution.

      Lambert Wickes was lost at sea when his ship foundered and sank in a severe storm off Newfoundland on a return trip from France in 1777. A memorial to Captain Wickes is found on Eastern Neck Island near the historic Wickliffe site.

    • More Recent Times

      Hynson's heirs eventually sold all their Eastern Neck Island lands to Wickes' heirs and the island was owned by the Wickes family until 1902. The period from 1800-1900 witnessed the division of the original parcels of land among the Wickes family and the diversification of farming activities. A small fishing village, which included an oyster-shucking plant was located at Bogles wharf. The Chester River Steamship Company operated a wharf nearby that was regularly served by steamships from Baltimore and other ports.

      In the 1920's, wealthy individuals from surrounding cities were attracted by the waterfowl concentrations and bought portions of the island for hunting retreats. One built in 1930 still stands and is now used for refuge programs.

      In the 1950's a developer bought a large tract and subdivided it into 293 small lots for a housing development. Responding to concerns over the development by the local community, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired the entire island between 1962 and 1967 to preserve its valuable wildlife habitat. The present refuge office is the only house ever built in the "Cape Chester" subdivision.

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