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Bees and butterflies on flower
Southwest Region Highlights HotTopics

Double E Ranch creek

Bear Creek, which provides habitat for the threatened Chiriachua leopard frog, runs through the property. Vanessa Burge, USFWS.

New Mexicans Celebrate Acquisition of Double E Ranch

November 2015
New Mexico.  Land of Enchantment.  This “enchantment” can be seen throughout our vast state.  Its rich, diverse landscape supports a variety of habitats from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico to the plains of eastern New Mexico.  As New Mexicans, we value our open spaces and our connection to the natural world.  

The Double E Ranch property in southwestern New Mexico exemplifies this “enchantment.”  The 5,867-acre property, recently acquired through the National Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration settlement funds and State Wildlife Grants funds, represents both natural beauty and open space.  

Read more about this property acquisition.


Cranes and snow geese at Bosque

Sandhill cranes and snow geese flock into the Refuge. Photo credit: Ryan Hagerty, USFWS.

Cooperative Cranes Provide Huge Economic Boost

November 2015
Great weather and cooperative sandhill cranes were the right combination for another highly successful Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico.  The Festival concluded on November 22 after 6 days of tours, workshops, lectures, hikes, and spectacular wildlife viewing.  The Festival draws thousands of people each year and this year was no different as nearly 6,000 people stopped by the Refuge Visitor Center with many more heading straight out to watch the flights of sandhill cranes, snow geese and ducks throughout the Refuge.  The Friends of the Bosque del Apache coordinated the Festival and offered over 165 events for birders, photographers and outdoor enthusiasts.   

Even more impressive is the El Defensor Chieftain, the community’s local newspaper, reported a New Mexico State Tourism study showed between $2.5 and $3 million dollars are generated in Socorro County by people attending the Festival!    

 Read the article  
Economic Impact Study  


Jim Kurth helps Houston area kids plant native plants.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director Jim Kurth helps plant the new pollinator garden. Photo credit: USFWS.

Houston Goes Wild!

November 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service celebrated with its many partners the establishment of the Houston Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. With more than 20 partners on board including the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, the Service is helping Houstonians learn about, find, and care for nature right in their own community. The creation of the Partnership was spearheaded by Ken Garrahan, Chief of Visitor Services for the Southwest Region and Nancy Brown, Southwest Region Urban Coordinator.

Participants had fun planting a demonstration pollinator garden and helping start a native seed bank, a source of native seeds for future habitat restoration projects in United States' 3rd largest city. In addition to the 150+ youth, the event included a baby alligator, snakes, butterflies, an Attwater Prairie Chicken dance, and a school group from Wisconsin that joined in on the fun virtually. Find out more about all the great things happening in Houston!

Learn more...


alligator snapping turtle

Alligator snapping turtle hatchling at Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery, Oklahoma. Photo credit: Brian Fillmore, USFWS.

Turtles at Tishomingo 

November 2015
Leading-edge work is underway at Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery in Oklahoma, where scientists are learning to culture alligator snapping turtles in captivity. They are also learning more about how and where the rare animal lives in the wild of eastern Oklahoma.

Watch this KXII news report to learn more.




Cranes take flight over Bosque del Apache

Sandhill cranes gather to roost on the Refuge. Photo credit: Ryan Hagerty, USFWS.

Festival of the Cranes Takes Flight

November 2015
The 28th Festival of the Cranes is underway at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico.  This nationally renowned six day Festival offers something for everyone, especially families, of all skill levels.  The event includes workshops, tours, speakers, hikes, horseback adventures, a photo contest, and much, much more.  Spectacular wildlife abounds as the Refuge is a wintering area for thousands of migratory birds including the majestic sandhill crane and a variety of ducks and geese.  The Festival is sponsored by the Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Some activities require pre-registration and a fee.  For more information and directions visit the links below. 

Access Information & Registration
Read the article in the Albuquerque Journal by Aaron Archibeque, Southwest Region Refuges Chief
Learn more about Bosque del Apache Refuge  

Camera set at Havasu

Sunrise at Bill Williams Peninsula on the Colorado River at Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Volunteer John West, USFWS.

Photo Contest Celebrates Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge Complex 75th Anniversary

November 2015
The Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge and their Friends Group invite you to participate in a Nature Photography Contest. The two western Arizona refuges (jointly, the Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge Complex) are holding the contest as part of the Refuges’ 75th Anniversary on January 22, 2016. Previous visitors are encouraged to select their best photos and those that haven’t yet visited still have time to snap shots.

Read the News Release
Learn more about Bill Williams NWR 
Contest Rules 


gulf coast sea birds

Gulf coast sea birds. Photo credit: Greg Thompson, USFWS.

New Report Assesses the Impacts of Emerging Threats on Gulf Coast Species and Ecosystems

November 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released its Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment (GCVA), a comprehensive report that evaluates the effects of climate change, sea level rise and urbanization on four Gulf Coast ecosystems and 11 species that depend on them. The ecosystems are mangrove, oyster reef, tidal emergent marsh and barrier islands. The species are roseate spoonbill, blue crab, clapper rail, mottled duck, spotted seatrout, eastern oyster, American oystercatcher, red drum, black skimmer, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and Wilson’s plover.

Learn more...


New Restoration Projects Funded by National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Compliment USFWS Conservation Efforts on National Wildlife Refuges on the Gulf Coast

November 2015
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced it is awarding more than $80 million from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) to 22 projects designed to benefit natural resources that were impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Eight of these new projects will be implemented either in or near National Wildlife Refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Altogether, these projects will receive approximately $20 million from the GEBF in this round of funding. The newly funded efforts will further the National Wildlife Refuge System’s mission to conserve, manage and restore the fish, wildlife, plant and habitat resources of the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

In the state of Texas, two new projects being funded by the GEBF will complement existing conservation efforts within the nearby Aransas National Wildlife Refuge: one will conserve 600 acres and complete the contiguous protection of 16,100 acres of tidal marshes and flats, intermediate and brackish wetlands, wet prairies, and shorelines on San Antonio Bay; another will evaluate options for protecting and enhancing colonial waterbird rookery islands within the Matagorda Bay system. Three new projects will impact the Laguna Atascosa NWR: one will increase the size of the refuge with the acquisition of a 1,780-acres, and two will enhance 670 acres of wetlands and restore 36 acres of critical bird nesting islands within it. A sixth project in Texas will enhance and complete two critical colonial waterbird and coastal seabird nesting islands within the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.

Read the full release.


Gerry Doaln

Gerry Dolan stands next to the refuge sign. Photo credit: Mara Weisenberger.

Honoring Our Veterans and Their Service

November 10, 2015
As U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees (Service), we make positive contributions to our country on a regular basis. The Service is also paying tribute to continued national service by placing veterans, convalescing service men and women, and persons with disabilities in volunteer positions.

The San Andres National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is proud to welcome Mr. Gerry Dolan on board through the Operation Warfighter (OWF) Program, as a Biological Technician. Gerry is a U.S. Army Soldier currently assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas. Before joining the Army, he completed a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, and he wants to work in that field in the future. He applied for the OWF internship with the Service to gain insight and experience in natural resource management, and to help with his transition from the military to a civilian career.

Learn more about Gerry Dolan and the Soutwhest Region's Veterans


A river runs through it

Floyd Truetken, Ken Rice, Bernie Freeman, Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Jeff Sanchez enjoy the celebration. The celebration included a tour of the completed project. Credit: USFWS.

A River Runs Through It

November 2015
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Roswell, New Mexico is an ecological crossroad where the Chihuahuan Desert meets short grass prairie and the Roswell artesian basin.  The blending of these different ecological conditions has created an oasis for some of New Mexico’s most rare and unusual wildlife species.   And through the southern part of the Refuge runs a river, the Rio Hondo.   

The Refuge and its many partners recently completed a restoration project on the Rio Hondo that has the direct potential to support the eventual delisting of seven Federally listed species and several State listed species.  Funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Recovery Initiative, a program that supports federally threatened and endangered species recovery, the project re-routed a portion of the Rio Hondo River to isolate springs and create improved habitat for endangered species.  A celebration was held at the Refuge to recognize the completion of the project and to thank the many partners that helped make it a reality!

Learn More about Bitter Lake NWR  

Cooperative Recovery Initiative


Leaders at the 2015 Director's Meeting

Leaders enjoyed a side trip to the San Marcos Aquatic Resource Center. Photo credit: B. Ullenberg, USFWS.







Southwest Region Shines at National Leadership Meeting

November 2015
Key leaders within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including Director Dan Ashe, gathered in San Antonio, Texas to highlight the Agency’s successes, discuss its many challenges, and share a vision for the future. During the meeting, the Southwest Region was able to present several conservation success stories to the group including monarch conservation, Gulf Coast restoration, and a standout Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership.

Dr. Tuggle helps plant aquatic vegetation.

Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director for the Southwest Region, helps plant aquatic vegetation at the San Marcos Aquatic Resource Center. Photo credit: B. Ullenberg, USFWS.

The meeting kicked off with a three person Panel that emphasized the Southwest Region as a leader in monarch and pollinator conservation by contributing to habitat enhancement, native milkweed seed propagation, research & monitoring, and community engagement & partnerships. Gulf Coast restoration then took center stage. Few places on the globe match the Gulf of Mexico’s coast in abundance and variety of wildlife, including the critically endangered whooping crane and ocelot. The Region is working with partners and stakeholders to achieve a healthy Gulf for both wildlife and people. Next up was the Houston Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, where the Region is connecting the citizens of Houston, including young people, to nature right in their own backyards.

Visit the Director’s Corner
Learn More about Gulf Coast Restoration
Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships
Save the Monarch


Native American cross

Photo caption: Authentic Native-American jewelry. Credit: Adam Conway Caesar, Pawnee Tribe, Necklace, 2004.

Three New Mexicans Charged with Fraudulently Selling Filipino-Made Jewelry as Native American-Made
Sixteen Search Warrants Executed in New Mexico and California as Part of Continuing Investigation into Alleged Violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act

October 2015 
ALBUQUERQUE – Three New Mexicans have been charged with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by conspiring to import and fraudulently sell Filipino-made jewelry as Native American-made.  The indictment charging the three defendants is the result of an ongoing federal investigation led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service into an international scheme to violate the IACA. The investigation included a law enforcement operation yesterday during which 16 search warrants were executed in New Mexico and California, and related investigative activity took place in the Philippines.

The IACA prohibits the offer or display for sale, or the sale of any good in a manner that falsely suggests that it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian and Indian tribe. It covers all Indian and Indian-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935, and broadly applies to the marketing of arts and crafts by any person in the United States. 

Learn more...

Ca leaf-nosed bat

California leaf-nosed bat. Credit: Jim Rorabaugh, USFWS.

Bat Week

October 2015
Just in time for Halloween! Join us for this week's Conservation Connect LIVE: All About Bats on October 21 at 2 pm ET! Students, use this opportunity to chat with us LIVE. Engage with Conservation Professionals and ask us questions about bats and other wildlife, careers, and new technology we use to study our natural world.

Learn more about Conservation Connect and Bats!


Laura Bush at Monarch Press Conference

William Knight (Southwest ARRC), Rueben Mendoza (Pathways student), Colby Crouse (Southwest ARRC), Stewart Jacks (Southwest Region Assistant Regional Director for Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation), Cirilo Alonzo, Rene Guerra (both of Uvalde National Fish Hatchery) form the traditional "bucket line" to facilitate stocking RGSM at Big Bend National Park, TX. Credit: Joy Nicholopoulos, USFWS.

Southwest Region Stocks Impressive Number of Rio Grande Silvery Minnow at Big Bend Reach

October 2015
An important step in the conservation of Rio Grande silvery minnow (RGSM) was reached this week when RGSM were stocked in the Big Bend National Park reach of the Rio Grande in Texas. On October 14, staff from the Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center (ARRC) at Dexter, NM, stocked 96,517 RGSM with coordination from the Texas Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office.

Uvalde employees stock silvery minnow.

Cirilo Alonzo from Uvalde National Fish Hatchery, Pathways Student Rueben Mendoza, and Mike Montagne of the Texas Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office cooperate to move Rio Grande silvery minnow from the truck in preparation for stocking the fish at the Big Bend National Park reach of the Rio Grande in Texas. Credit: Joy Nicholopoulos, USFWS.

On October 15, a count of 132,500 RGSM from Uvalde National Fish Hatchery, Uvalde, TX, were stocked in the same area. The fish raised at Uvalde National Fish Hatchery were part of a pilot project this year to determine if it was feasible to raise the fish at a new facility. This pilot project was a resounding success and marked the first time that RGSM stocked in Texas were raised in Texas. Important partners for this work in Texas include Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, National Park Service, and a number of private landowners and ranchers in the area. Southwestern ARRC has scheduled stocking an additional 100,000 RGSM in the Big Bend area in late November and 128,000 in the Middle Rio Grande in New Mexico on October 19 and again mid-November.



Dr. Benjamin Tuggle and other at Swinback Springs

USFWS Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle and Austin Ecological Services Field Supervisor Adam Zerrenner joined Williamson County Commissioners Covey, Birkman and Long and the City of Georgetown's Mayor Ross at Swinbank Springs to celebrate a locally based solution to conserving the Georgetown salamander. Credit: USFWS.

USFWS, City of Georgetown and Williamson County Celebrate Local Solution to Conserving the Georgetown Salamander

October 2015
Yesterday, alongside the tranquil Swinbank Springs in Georgetown, Texas, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the City of Georgetown and Williamson County celebrated the recent approval of a special rule that facilitates conservation of the Georgetown salamander and enables sustainable development in the Williamson County area. The special rule, known as a 4(d) rule, encourages a locally based solution to conserving the salamander while allowing projects in the area to move forward.

More than 50 people including community leaders, landowners, businesses and the media attended the event which provided an opportunity to learn more about the cooperative effort to conserve the Georgetown salamander and better understand the role of the City’s ordinances in ensuring a healthy water supply for the community and the salamander. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle, Commissioner Valerie Covey, Commissioner Lisa Birkman, Commissioner Cynthia Long, Williamson County Conservation Foundation’s Gary Boyd, the City of Georgetown’s Mayor Dale Ross and Congressman John Carter were all present for the event.

For more information on the Georgetown salamander and the special rule please visit -

Laura Bush at Monarch Press Conference

Laura Bush at Monarch Press Conference. Credit: Beth Ullenberg, USFWS.

Laura Bush Brings Voice to Monarch Conservation

October 2015
Former First Lady Laura Bush brought the state of the monarch to the forefront of conservation at a Press Conference in Dallas, Texas. Mrs. Bush, founder of Texan By Nature, joined forces with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, and The National Wildlife Federation on Tuesday at the George W. Bush Institute to bring awareness to the issues facing this iconic species. Mrs. Bush encouraged all Texans to join her in helping save the monarch by planting native milkweed and nectoring plants whether over vast landscapes or in their own backyards.

Laura Bush at Monarch Press Conference

US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe answers media questions after the Conference. Credit: Beth Ullenberg, USFWS.

“In order for Texas to remain a thriving central flyway for the Monarch butterfly, we must join together to conserve and create essential monarch habitat,” said Mrs. Laura Bush. “Conservation truly begins at home, and with more Texans lending their time, expertise, land, and resources, we can ensure that the Monarch butterfly – the state insect of Texas – is here to stay.”

You Can Help Save The Monarch:

Monarchs in the Southwest:

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 Maintenance 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 celebrations 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.
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Two New Refuges
Two new refuges in the Southwest Region are the 559th and 560th refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
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Last updated: November 30, 2015