WMA Spotlight: Pearl River Wildlife Management Area
2/18/2021 8:00:00 AM
The 6,900-acre Pearl River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is owned by the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRVWSD). Located in Madison County, 8 miles east of Canton and approximately 25 miles from Jackson, it is bordered on the south by Ross Barnett Reservoir and on the north by the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Pearl River WMA was established in 1964 as a wildlife refuge with an agreement between the PRVWSD and Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP). Forest management activities are conducted according to PRVWSD forest management plans and with input from MDWFP. MDWFP manages public hunting, offers habitat management recommendations, and provides law enforcement support for resource protection.
Lay of the land
Pearl River WMA contains a diverse mix of habitats, including mixed pine-upland hardwoods, bottomland hardwoods, cypress-tupelo brakes, oxbow lakes, moist-soil vegetation, and freshwater marshes. The area contains over 2,000 acres of unmanaged freshwater marsh habitat that is subject to periodic water fluctuations from water-level management on Ross Barnett Reservoir. Numerous lakes, sloughs, and flooded bottomland hardwood wetlands provide foraging and roosting habitat for migrating waterfowl.
A 1,400-acre refuge is located within the boundary of the WMA, where moist-soil management occurs on 234 acres of impoundments. A combination of rotational disking, chemical application, and timing of flooding/drawdown maintain a desirable plant composition for the moist-soil habitat. The refuge section of the WMA is managed primarily for wintering waterfowl and other migratory birds. An observation platform and walkway allow visitors to see wildlife in a natural setting.
Adjacent to the Ross Barnett Reservoir, Pearl River WMA offers quality recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching, bicycle riding, jogging, and picnicking. Camping sites with full water and electrical hookups are available at several locations on the property adjacent to the Ross Barnett Reservoir. Also located on the WMA is the Turcotte Shooting Facility, which offers ranges for rifle, handgun, sporting clays, skeet, 5 stand, and archery.
Deer hunting with primitive weapons is the most popular meth-od on this still-hunting-only WMA. Other hunting opportunities include squirrel, turkey, waterfowl, raccoon, and rabbit. Hunting in the youth area is restricted to youth, except for deer hunting during archery season, trapping, and raccoon hunting. Youth can hunt waterfowl in impoundments throughout the entire waterfowl season with a special permit. Hunting in the handicapped area is restricted to handicapped hunters only.
Anglers enjoy good to excellent opportunities for largemouth bass, crappie, and bream on areas of the WMA that border the Reservoir. MDWFP’s Turcotte Fish Hatchery is located in the WMA and grows bluegill and redear sunfish, striped bass and hybrid striped bass, and triploid grass carp for stocking in public waters in Mississippi.
For more information
Visitors to Pearl River WMA should familiarize themselves with the current regulations, including license, the check-in and check-out processes, and harvest reporting requirements. Unless exempt from purchasing an annual hunting or fishing license, all visitors must possess a valid WMA-user permit if utilizing the area. To apply for draw hunts and to learn more about WMAs in Mississippi, visit www.mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunting/wma/, or contact the MDWFP Wildlife Bureau at (601) 432-2199.