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Southwest Region Highlights HotTopics

two employeesexamine Page springsnail

Agency biologists examining Page springsnail habitat. Credit: Tom Gatz, USFWS.

Agencies’ Conservation Efforts Assist in Finding Unique Arizona Snail is Not Endangered

October 2015
The Service worked with Arizona Game and Fish Department on a voluntary conservation agreement that restored Page springsnail habitat on state lands. Through this effort, Arizona enhanced natural springs, created artificial springbrooks, added substrate preferred by the snail, and salvaged snails during the eradication of non-native species. Eight of the ten Page springsnail populations are now stable or increasing.

Read the News Release
learn more...

Wiley "Dub" Lyon Receives 2015 Refuge System Volunteer of the Year Award

October 2015
For the past seven years, Wiley "Dub" Lyon has volunteered to help the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge when needed. For his exemplary volunterism, Mr. Wiley received the Refuge Association’s 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding service to Balcones Refuge in Texas. David Houghton, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, had the honor of presenting the award to Mr. Lyon and Cynthia Martinez, Chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System attended the celebration.

“We’re here to celebrate the great people that have passion and enthusiasm for conservation. Volunteers choose what to do with their time and Dub chose our National Wildlife Refuge System,” noted Cynthia.

Read the entire article from the National Wildlife Refuge Association blog
Read more about Wiley "Dub" Lyon's accomplishments


RD Pens Open Letter on the Middle Rio Grande Urban Conservation Corps Program

October 2015
In the September 30th issue of Government Executive, Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director, Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, penned an open letter on the Middle Rio Grande Conservation Corps and the natural connection to nature that engages conservation. In the article, Dr. Tuggle addresses the conservation efforts of the Region with urban youth and highlights some of the projects that are supported in this initiative.

Read the Rest of Dr. Tuggle's guest column featured in Government Executive, and the FWS OpenSpaces Blog
Learn more about Youth Initiatives in the Southwest Region


headwater and roundtail chubs

Roundtail chub (top) and headwater chub (bottom) are proposed for Endangered Species Act protection. Credit: © John Rinne.

Service Proposes to List the Headwater Chub and Roundtail Chub as Threatened

October 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list two minnows, the headwater chub and a distinct population segment  of the roundtail chub in the Lower Colorado River Basin (Arizona and New Mexico), as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Read the News Release
Fact Sheet
Learn more about the Headwater chub
Learn more about the Roundtail chub


sonoran tortoise

Sonoran desert tortoise. Credit: Jeff Servoss, USFWS.

Sonoran Desert Tortoise Does Not Warrant Endangered Species Protection

October 2015
After reviewing the best available scientific and commercial information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that the Sonoran desert tortoise does not face the threat of extinction. The finding is due in part to long-term commitments to continued proactive efforts between federal agencies, Arizona Game and Fish Department, in identifying and addressing the primary threats to the tortoise. The Service utilized a robust scientific analysis of the desert tortoise status and current and future threats and concluded it does not face extinction now or in the foreseeable future.

Read the news release.
Fact Sheet
Learn more about the Sonoran Tortoise


volunteers clean the stream with a net

Volunteers work the rvier. Credit: USFWS.

Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week
October 11 - 17, 2015!

September 2015
National Wildlife Refuge Week is October 11 through the 17 this year and refuges around the nation host events for the public. Here in the Southwest Region a number of our refuges are holding events that the public can attend and enjoy including, Balcones Canyonlands, Havasu, Sevietta, Bitter Lake, and Wichita Mountains. A listing of some of the refuge events is provided below and for more information about additional events, please visit the refuge websites. We hope you will join us for family fun in the outdoors!

Visit additional refuge websites from the main refuge page.

Refuge Event / Contact
Wichita Mountains (OK)

Volunteer Trail Mainatenance and Appreciation Dinner
Refuge Headquarters 8am - 4:30 pm
Phone: (580) 429-3222

Wichita Mountains Visitor Center
(580) 429-2197
Visitor Center information here 

Balcone Canyonlands (TX) Monarch Tagging
Plant Walk/Landscaping for Pollinators
Environmental Education activities
Friends of Balcones
Balcones Canyonlands NWR
Phone: 512-339-9432
Email the refuge
Havasu (AZ)

Family Fun Day (October 24)
Phone: (760) 326-3853
Fax: (760) 326-5745

Sevietta (NM)

Celebrate Sevietta (October 24th)
Phone Number:  (505) 864-4021
Facebook Page

Sequoyah (OK)

Big Sit October 14
Phone: 918-773-5251 or 918-773-5252
E-mail: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge 

South Texas
Complex - (TX)
October 13 - 17:
Bird Walk, Butterfly Walk, recycled paper pots w/ native seeds
Bitter Lake (NM)

Children's Story Hour October 17
Phone: 575-622-6755
Office Hours:  8am - 4pm (MDT), Monday through Friday


Valle de Oro 3rd birthday

Third Birthday celbrations for Valle de Oro NWR. Credit: USFWS.

Valle de Oro Celebrates Its Third Birthday

September 2015
Our "dancing refuge cake" Deidra Montoya, Middle Rio Grande Youth Urban Conservation Corps participant, helped celebrate the Third Birthday for the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge an urban wildlife refuge near downtown Albuquerque, N.M. this past Saturday.  Over 600 visitors enjoyed the birthday party with over 40 partner booths at the refuge, including live and radio simulcast music, main stage conservation presentations, refuge tours and birding, workshops, hayrides and cupcakes.


eagle in tower

Eagle stands at nest in tower. Credit; USFWS.

Eagles Return to Nest

September 2015
Great News! The eagles have returned to their nest tower at the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center. They arrived Sunday evening.  In July 2014, Oncor working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Arlington Ecological Services Field Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Falcon Steel and the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center relocated a bald eagle nest from an existing tower to new tower. We are very excited to see that the eagles are doing well in their new nest! Check out the links below to watch the amazing video of their return or to watch the camera on the tower:

Eagles Return at Dusk Wetlands Center eagle cam Vimeo version.  
Eagle Nest Camera Wetlands Center.


California condor event

Condor release events are fun-filled and fascinating for young and old.  Bring your family and friends! Photo credit: Jeff Humphrey, USFWS.

Public Invited to Watch California Condor Release at Vermilion Cliffs on Sept. 26 (National Public Lands Day)

September 2015
You're invited to attend the release of California condors in northern Arizona on September 26! What a great way to spend National Public Lands Day! Once a year, people get a rare opportunity in Arizona that very few other places offer: to witness the release of endangered California condors into the wild. The public is invited to attend this year’s event on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. when previously-captive condors will be released at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

Condors are the largest flying land bird in North America and weighs up to 26 pounds with up to a 9 ½ -foot wingspan. There are now 70 condors in the northern Arizona.

Learn how you can participate in this species recovery event
Read the News Release and get directions
Learn more about condors


great horned owl

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

Operation Freebird Nets Four Subjects
Four Sentenced in San Antonio for the Unlawfully Selling of Migratory Birds

September 2015
Sixty–year-old Tomas G. Perez of Devine, Texas was sentenced to three years’ probation by Senior U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra at the San Antonio U.S. District Court after pleading guilty to felony charges for the illegal selling of migratory birds of prey.  Perez also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,000 to a San Antonio based raptor wildlife rehabilitation facility.  Perez was the last of four individuals who were investigated for the trafficking of federally protected migratory birds. 

Learn more...




Refuge Seeks Public Input on Draft Hunt Plan and Environmental Assessment

September 2015
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA), Hunt Plan and Compatibility Determination for opening a portion of the refuge to hunting of doves (white-winged, mourning, Eurasian collared dove and rock pigeon). The refuge considered whether to maintain the current hunting program (no dove hunting) or allow limited dove public dove hunting for youth/adult hunters (the proposed action). Copies of these documents are available for review at the refuge headquarters and on the refuge website located at:

The public is encouraged to submit written comments to: Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Attn: Hunt Plan/EA, P.O. Box 278, Anahuac, TX 77514. Written comments will be accepted until 4:30 pm on Friday, October 21, 2015.

Learn more...
Hunt Plan
Draft Environmental Assessment
Compatibility Determination


Moniker App. Credit: USFWS.

There’s An App For That!

September 2015
This App can be addictive.  The Southwest Region Division of Biological Science, I&M Team created a new innovative App named Moniker, that has just been released and can turn you into a virtual wildlife biologist!  Many national wildlife refuges across the Southwest use trail cameras to capture images of animals in their natural habitat, even elusive species.  The photos are not only fascinating to look at (check out the Wildlife Selfies webpage!), but also provide key information to wildlife biologists who track species presence, population sizes, and distribution.  The only down side is that the cameras can take millions of pictures.  That’s where YOU come in!  The new Moniker App allows anyone, anywhere to sort through the photos to count and identify wildlife species in the picture.  It’s fun, it’s easy and you do not need to be a wildlife expert to use it! 

Download the App and then learn how to use it from its YouTube video tutorial to get you started.       


golden cheeked warbler

Golden-cheeked warbler. Credit: USWFS.

Carma Paso Robles, LLC Submits Draft Habitat Conservation Plan

September 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 Paso Robles Phase II Development in Hays County, Texas. The Service is requesting public comments on the incidental take permit, dHCP and the draft environmental assessment (dEA). Comments will be accepted until November 16, 2015.

The Carma Paso Robles, LLC, is requesting an incidental take permit to cover activities associated with the proposed clearing and construction on 376 acres of the Paso Robles Phase II Development that may affect the golden-cheeked warbler and its habitat. 

Learn more...  
Read additional infromation


mule deer herd

Herd of mule deer. Credit:  Gary Zahm, USFWS.

Refuge Seeks Public Input on Draft Hunt Plan and Environmental Assessment

September 2015
Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA), Hunt Plan and Compatibility Determination for opening the refuge to mule deer, white-tailed deer, and feral hog hunting.  The refuge considered whether to continue current management (no action) or open the refuge to limited hunting (by youth) of deer and feral hogs on the refuge (proposed action).  Copies of these documents are available for review at the refuge headquarters and on the refuge website located at: lake/

The public is encouraged to submit written comments to: Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Attn: Hunt Plan/EA, P.O. Box 179, Umbarger, TX 79091.  Written comments will be accepted until 4:30 pm on Thursday, October 8, 2015.

Learn more...
Hunt Plan
Draft Environmental Assessment
Compatibility Determination


false identifcation card

Credit: USFWS.

Odessa Man Sentenced for Selling Fake Indian Art

September 2015
Department of Justice -An Odessa, Mo., man who falsely claimed to be a Cherokee Indian was sentenced in federal court for utilizing a fraudulent tribal identification card to sell his Indian artwork at fairs and on-line. Terry Lee Whetstone, 63, of Odessa, was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah W. Hays to three years of probation after also pleading guilty today to the charge of misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods and products.

Learn more...


Gila TRout

Gila trout. Credit: Craig Springer, USFWS.

The Gila Trout

September 2015
The Gila trout stared into the dark abyss of extinction, but dedicated scientists turned that around. You can learn more about the this beautiful rare trout and the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in this Sporting Classics story.

Learn more...



Attwater's prairie chicken

Attwater's prairie chicken. Credit: USFWS.

New York Times Addresses Attwater's Prairie Chicken Decline

September 2015
The New York Times published an article on September 4, 2015, addressing the risks and decline of the Attwater's prairie chicken and the severity of its plummeting populations. When asked about the status of the bird, Terry Rossignol, the manager at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge stated, “It’s like it’s crying out, ‘Help me!’ ” The article also discusses the habitat and federal recovery plan of this beloved species as well as the recent progress in understanding the barriers to its survival. A short video of a prairie chicken courtship ritual accompanies the article.

Learn more...


Public Input Requested

September 2015
Washita National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA), Hunt Plan and Compatibility Determination for opening the refuge to spring turkey hunting. The Refuge considered whether to maintain the existing hunting program (no turkey hunting), allow limited turkey hunting (the proposed action), or open the refuge to unrestricted turkey hunting during the State open seasons. Copies of these documents are available at the link below. The public is encouraged to submit written comments to Washita NWR, Attn: Hunt Plan/EA, 20834 E 0940 Road, Butler, OK 73625-5001. Written Comments will be accepted until 4:30 pm on Thursday, October 8, 2015.

Learn more...
Washita NWR Wild Turkey Hunt Plan
Draft Environmental Assessment
Draft Compatibility Determination


Las Vegas NWR staff with Pollinator Award

Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge Staff have been recognized for their contributions to Monarch butterfly conservation through educational programming. Credit: USFWS.

Winners for Monarch Conservation Announced

September 2015
Congratulations to Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge for receiving the National Pollinator Champion in the Education category. They earned this award, as a result of their Mission Fly Away program, a curriculum that promotes citizen science and conservation of monarch butterflies.  In 2014, five schools in Las Vegas, New Mexico, participated in the curriculum, which engages youth and the community in raising, tagging, and releasing monarchs at the Refuge.  

Learn more about Monarch Conservation 


kids in a park discovering

A young boy and girl discover something interesting during their hike. Credit: Steve Hillebrand, USFWS.

Every Kid In A Park…and A National Wildlife Refuge Too!

September 2015
From sea to shining sea, our country is home to inspiring landscapes, vibrant waterways, abundant wildlife and historic treasures that all Americans can enjoy.  Every Kid In A Park encourages valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in the spectacular places that belong to all of us, including America’s national wildlife refuges.  Through this program, fourth graders, including home schooled and free choice learners 10 years of age, can obtain fee-free entrance access to their public lands for one year. It’s easy! Simply visit the Every Kid In A Park website, participate in an educational activity, and print your Voucher!  And remember, most national wildlife refuges are already free!

Learn more and get your Voucher here  
Find a National Wildlife Refuge near you  

Southwest Region Archived News Releases

Search additional archived news releases for the Southwest Region

Wildlife Selfies Trailcam
Southwest Emphasis Areas
Youth and Students
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!
Our Stories
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
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The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognizes two of our employees
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Science Leadership Award
Grant Harris receives recognition for scientific leadership
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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: October 8, 2015