Wolf Creek Wildlife Area, Morgan County, Ohio

About Wolf Creek Wildlife Area

Wolf Creek Wildlife Area (WA) covers 3,911 acres and is owned and managed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. It lies east of Wayne National Forest in the rolling hill country of southeastern Ohio. Although much of the tract was once used for farming and pasturing livestock, today the WA is managed mainly for forest wildlife. The area has woods, brushlands, grassy openings, streams, and manmade ponds.

Trees include maples, beech, elm, ash, sycamore, tulip poplar, oaks, and hickories. In the past, white pines were planted in old fields. The WA has a significant amount of non-native invasive plants, including multiflora rose, autumn olive, tree-of-heaven, Japanese honeysuckle (a low-to-the-ground shrub), and bush honeysuckle.

Mammals include cottontail rabbits, white-tailed deer, gray and fox squirrels, woodchucks, beaver, raccoons, muskrats, and mink. Wild turkeys, woodcock, ruffed grouse, ducks, and a variety of songbirds inhabit the WA.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

In 2009, a 996-acre area on the northeastern part of the WA was designated a Woodcock Habitat Demonstration Area. That year, a commercial logging harvest removed 35 acres of mature timber on six sites.


Patch cuts will yield good feeding and brood-rearing cover near existing woodcock singing grounds.

The initial patch cuts were made mainly in white pine stands. Managers sited the cuts near old fields that are mowed every three years. (At present, about 120 acres of openings are maintained throughout Wolf Creek WA.)

After one growing season, the patch cuts showed regeneration of white ash, black cherry, red maple, tulip poplar, flowering dogwood, and other trees and shrubs. The patches will become nesting and feeding habitat for local woodcock, whose population should expand. Woodcock currently use old fields on the WA for singing and roosting. The newly created young-forest habitat will provide additional nesting and brood-rearing areas, and will also offer feeding cover to woodcock during the spring and fall migrations.

As trees and shrubs thrive in the increased sunlight on the cut-over areas, they will yield fruits and berries for a wide range of songbirds that eat those foodstuffs to build up body fat for migration. Among such species are interior-forest songbirds, including thrushes and warblers.


Shrubs in patch cuts provide fruits for songbirds as well as dense cover that protects ground-feeding woodcock.

If funds become available, managers hope to be able to start suppressing non-native invasive shrubs within the demonstration area in the coming years.

Ruffed grouse numbers on Wolf Creek WA have fallen to a low over the last decade; the newly restored young-forest habitat should help this game species rebound. Local hunters will find more cottontail rabbits in the regrowing patches. Wild turkeys will use the areas for nesting and will then lead their broods into nearby feeding habitats on mowed fields.

Other birds that should benefit from the added acres of young, brushy forest and woodland edges include blue-winged warblers, prairie warblers, yellow warblers, yellow-breasted chats, field sparrows, indigo buntings, Eastern towhees, brown thrashers, kingbirds, and whip-poor-wills.

Biologists set up and ran two woodcock singing ground survey routes in 2009 and 2010. The surveys showed that singing male woodcock were already fairly well established on the area, with 10 birds detected in 2009 and 6 birds in 2010. As logged areas begin growing back, the increase in young-forest habitat should provide opportunities for more woodcock to breed on Wolf Creek WA.

If funds become available, managers hope to be able to start suppressing non-native invasive shrubs within the demonstration area in the coming years.

Funding and Partners

Ohio Division of Wildlife, Hocking College, Wildlife Management Institute

How to Visit

Wolf Creek WA is 9 mines southwest of McConnelsville and 11 miles northeast of Glouster along Ohio Route 78. For more information, contact Ken Ritchie, Wildlife Area Supervisor, Wolf Creek WA, 740-962-2048, ken.ritchie@dnr.state.oh.us; or Mike Reynolds, Forest Wildlife Research Biologist, Wildlife District Four, Athens, 740-589-9921, mike.reynolds@dnr.state.oh.us.