Southwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America

Lake Havasu



Refuge Closures

May 2015
After a series of severe weather events on Memorial Day weekend across Texas and Oklahoma, a number of refuges are experiencing full or partial closures due to flooding and storm damage and to ensure public safety.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma), Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma), and Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (Texas) are closed until further notice.

If you are planning to visit a refuge in one of the affected states, please call ahead to determine the status of public access. Contact information for individual refuges can be found by clicking on the refuge name above, by phone at:

Wichita Mountains NWR - 580-429-3222
Tishomingo NWR - 580-371-2402
Hagerman NWR - 903-786-2826 ,

or by contacting Nancy Brown, Public Outreach Specialist, at 512-339-9432 (work) or 505-382-5053 (cell).

Keep up-to-date on our Refuge Facebook page.


a gila trout
Gila trout. Photo by Craig Springer/USFWS.

Conservation Genetics Steers Gila Trout Management

May 2015
A rare Southwestern trout stared extinction in the face. Now, you can fish for them. Conservation genetics and the dedication of professionals ensures this Mogollon Rim native fish has a future.

Learn more about this success story in the Service's Open Spaces blog.


2014 recovery champions
The 2014 Recovery Champion Awardees, from left to right: Tony Amos, Director of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK), and Cyndee Watson, Recovery Lead for endangered karst invertebrates, Austin Ecological Services Field Office. Photo credit: USFWS.

2014 Recovery Champion Awards

May 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Endangered Species Program recognizes outstanding employees on an annual basis through Recovery Champions Awards. This award highlights the contributions of Service personnel and partner organizations for the recovery of endangered and threatened species. This national recognition is awarded for efforts such as working to prevent species’ extinction, conserving and restoring habitat and resources critical to a species’ survival and recovery, scientific research, and public education and outreach. Nominations were solicited from Ecological Services, Refuges, Fisheries and partner groups, and were based on leadership competencies, length of time working on the issues, scope and significance of efforts, and measurable results.

The Southwest Region’s 2014 Recovery Champion recipients are Cyndee Watson, Recovery Lead for endangered karst invertebrates, Austin Ecological Services Field Office; and Anthony (Tony) Amos, Director of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK), University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) a partner organization.

Read more about the 2014 Recovery Champions...


Matt Belew
Federal Wildlife Officer Matt Belew evacuated Scouts before the severe storm hit. Photo credit: USFWS.

Federal Wildlife Officer Acts Quickly to Save Boy Scouts

May 2015
“Thank God for Matt Belew. You were our guardian angel. You saved our lives!” These are the words of Darryl Laux, father of a Boy Scout troop member and participant in a camping trip at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. Severe weather, including a tornado, blew through the area that included the campground. Anticipating the storm, Federal Wildlife Officer Matt Belew evacuated the 65 Scouts and their leaders to the Refuge Headquarters basement before the storm hit. The tornado caused major damage to the campground, tents and equipment, and other parts of the Refuge. Luckily, there were no injuries and thanks to the quick action of Matt Belew all Scouts are safe.

Learn more...
Learn more about the Refuge...


Great horned owl captured in box
The Great horned owl that was sold to an undercover agent on May 2, 2012. photo credit: USAO.

Four Plead Guilty in San Antonio to Unlawfully Selling Migratory Birds

May 2015
In San Antonio, four individuals await sentencing after pleading guilty to federal charges related to illegally selling migratory birds announced Acting United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. and Special Agent in Charge Nicholas Chavez, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Southwest Region. Appearing before Chief United States District Court Judge Fred Biery this morning, 50-year-old Jorge Rocha of Natalia, TX, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully offering to sell and selling migratory birds.

Learn more...




Dr Tuggle interviews with the Texas farm Bureau
Dr. Benjamin Tuggle sits down for an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. Photo credit: Lesli Gray, USFWS.

Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network Interviews with Dr. Tuggle, Regional Director, Southwest Region USFWS

May 2015
On May 12, 2015, Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle attended the Texas Farm Bureau Board of Director’s meeting in Waco, Texas. Afterward he had an opportunity to sit down with Gary Jonier, from the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network, for an interview focusing on the vital role that Texas farmers, ranchers and private landowners play in the conservation of wildlife and important landscapes across the state.  Dr. Tuggle’s interview aired in two segments on the Texas Wildlife Radio Show. Below are links to Dr. Tuggle’s interviews:

Listen to the USFWS Easing Fears of Landowners Podcast

Listen to the USFWS Technical Assistance Available for Landowners Podcast


Carved ivory pieces. Photo credit: USFWS.

Texas Antiques Appraiser Sentenced to 25 Months in Prison for Rhino and Ivory Smuggling Conspiracy

May 2015
Ning Qiu, 43, of Frisco, Texas, an appraiser of Asian art, was sentenced today in Beaumont, Texas, to 25 months in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiring to smuggle rhinoceros horns and objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory, from the United States to China. Qiu was also directed to pay a $150,000 fine, which was directed to the Lacey Act Reward Fund. The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas and the Directorfor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Learn more...


Ducks in flight
A flock of ducks take flight from a wetland. Photo credit: Gary Kramer, USFWS.

Ducks To The Rescue!

May 2015
It may seem odd that a web-footed, wetland loving duck could help save the elusive, perilously endangered, thornscrub loving ocelot. But that is exactly what happens when you purchase a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly known as a Duck Stamp. For every dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps, 98 cents go directly to acquire or lease habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System benefiting waterfowl but also a multitude of other wildlife species. Recently, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Texas was one of nine refuges across the country to receive funding for land acquisition through the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission from funds largely raised by Duck Stamp dollars. Not only will this funding greatly benefit ducks, geese and other waterfowl but a myriad of other wildlife will also benefit, including the ocelot.

Learn more...
Learn more about Duck Stamps
Learn more about Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge


CEMEX Construction Materials South Submits Draft Habitat Conservation Plan 

May 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the availability of an incidental take permit application that includes a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (dHCP) for the CEMEX Balcones Quarry Northeast Area Tract in Comal County, Texas. Publication of this notice begins a 60-day comment period. Comments will be accepted until July 13, 2015.

Read additional information on the dHCP and the draft Environmental Assessment, as well as information on how to comment


redhead duck
Redhead duck. Photo credit: USFWS.

Duck Data, 2015: Photovoltaic Cells, Satellites, GPS and Doppler Radar

May 2015
The redhead duck is arguably among the handsomest of waterfowl. That is of course a matter of opinion. But here's a fact: eighty percent of all North American redhead ducks spend their winters concentrated along the lower Gulf Coast of Texas in the Laguna Madre. The birds have an affinity for, if not an obligation to, freshwaters situated near salty shores. They feed on shoalgrass in the Laguna and fly inland to purge excess salts. Redheads, like most birds that feed in saltwater have a salt gland near the eye that excretes excess salts ingested while feeding. It is essential that salt be purged daily in freshwater ponds. And knowing the array of habitats frequented by the bird during south Texas winter sojourns is essential for Dan Collins.

Learn more about the redhead duck and the Service's Southwest Region employee, Dan Collins. Southwest Region Migratory Bird website


Government executive article

In an Era of Cuts, the Path Forward for Conservation Is ‘Emphasis Areas’

May 2015
In the Government Executive Promising Practices forum, Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region, discusses the region's innovative ideas for maintaining conservation efforts in an era of tighter budgets.

"The Southwest Region will concentrate conservation on geographies where it can most effectively achieve the greatest return on investment of limited resources. Our people have the know-how and the grit to perform under any circumstances. We own a history of success, and with this approach I expect more to come.

Read all of Dr. Benjamin Tuggle's comments from the article.


Monarch butterfly
Monarchs are one of many wildlife species found at Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit:  Mark Musselman/National Audubon Society.

A Place of Peace and Quiet

May 2015
The locals describe it as a perfect place to view wildlife, hike, fish or just enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge in south-central Oklahoma is right outside their back doors providing natural, unencumbered habitat for a variety of native Oklahoma wildlife species. Listen as a local residents tells the story of the Refuge and how much it means to their community.  

Watch the video on Tishomingo NWR
Learn more about the refuge


Left to right: Neosho mucket and rabbitsfoot,. Credit M.C. Barnhart and Bob Butler/USFWS.

Service Designates Critical Habitat for Two Freshwater Mussels in 12 States

April 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized critical habitat designations for the Neosho mucket and rabbitsfoot mussels in rivers of 12 states under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We also announce the availability of the final economic analysis associated with the designations. In Oklahoma, the final critical habitat designations for these two freshwater species total approximately 138 river miles.

Learn more...
Fact Sheet

Southwest Region News Releases

Search additional archived news releases for the Southwest Region

Refuges Trailcam Gallery
Monarch Butterflies in the Southwest Region
Wolf Recovery Program
New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse

Introducing…Wildlife Selfies!
The Southwest Region has a brand new interactive webpage; every month new, exciting refuge trailcam photos will be highlighted.  Simply click on the Refuge
Trailcam button and enjoy!  And remember…check back often!

Visit the Southwest Region's Refuge Trailcam site of Wildlife Selfies!


Projects Using State Wildlife Grants
There are many projects using State Wildlife Grants taking place in the Southwest Region.Learn more...

R2 LE Agent Receives Honor Award for Role in Operation Black Gold
Learn more...
Summer Jobs at Trinity River NWR
Liberty, Texas - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, through the Youth Conservation Corps program, is seeking applications from young men and women age 15 to 18 for two summer positions.
Learn more...

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognizes two of our employees
Learn more...

Science Leadership Award
Grant Harris receives recognition for scientific leadership
Learn more...
Southwest Region's Wounded Warriors
There are eight Wounded Warriors who have joined our ranks
Learn more...

Two New Refuges
Two new refuges in the Southwest Region are the 559th and 560th refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Learn more...



Last updated: May 28, 2015