Dead Standing Tree
Gage Harris/USFWS

A snag is a term that refers to a standing dead tree, and many can be found in the refuge. "Shouldn't these dead trees be cut down?" you might ask, but snags provide multiple benefits for a variety of wildlife. Bird species, including the pileated woodpecker, create cavities in dead snags where they will raise their young. Mammals like squirrels, raccoons, and fishers will use natural cavities and holes created by other species in snags as their dens. Wood boring insects are attracted to dead trees, which provides food for birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and other insects. Raptors, including the bald eagle and osprey on the refuge, make use of their unobstructed vantage points for hunting. When the snag does finally come crashing down, it will provide nutrients and sustenance for ground dwelling critters. If the snag happens to fall into wetlands or a body of water, amphibians and fish will use these wooden structures as shelter. Turtles can often be seen basking in the warm sun on a downed tree that rests above the water. Without wooden debris in our water, many species would not survive.