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The Mississippi Wildlife Action Plan uses a habitat-based approach to conserve rare and declining, as well as common, species, providing a guide for the effective and efficient long-term conservation of Mississippi’s fish and wildlife diversity.
Mississippi’s Diverse Lands, Waters, and Wildlife
Mississippi’s 47,716 square mile area includes 44 miles of coastline, 450 square miles of open water and five major river systems that empty into the Gulf of Mexico or the Mississippi River. Elevations range from sea level to 806-foot Woodall Mountain in Tishomingo County. Forests dominate the landscape, comprising over half the land area, and about 37 percent of the land is in agricultural production.
Lying directly above the geographic center of the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi is in the main flyway for transgulf bird migrants. Black bear wander the bottomlands along the Mississippi, Pearl and Pascagoula Rivers. The Gulf sturgeon spends much of its life in marine environments of the Mississippi Sound, but moves to the freshwater of the Pearl and Pascagoula Rivers to spawn.
Mississippi’s Planning Approach
Expert surveys and data from the Mississippi Natural Heritage Program led to the identification of 297 species of greatest conservation need, as well as their habitats. Sixty-four habitat subtypes were grouped into inland terrestrial, flowing water, standing water and marine categories. Habitat subtypes were prioritized according to the number of Species of Greatest Conservation Need found in each subtype, and by the degree of imperilment of these species.