Southwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America
Southwest Region USFWS facebook page Southwest Region USFWS page Southwest region USFWS Flikr page USFWS YouTube site
Bees and butterflies on flower
Southwest Region Highlights HotTopics

Ocelot in shrubs

A wild ocelot at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Steve Hillebrand, USFWS.

Ocelots Make the Best Valentines!

February 2016
Deemed one of the rarest wild cat species in the United States, the critically endangered ocelot has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since 1982.  Learn more about these elusive felines and check out the five reasons why ocelots make the best valentines!

Best Valentines

Learn more...


Ecological Services Biologist, Dave Smith, Receives National Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rangeland Management

February 2016
Dave Smith, a Fish and Wildlife biologist at the Arizona Ecological Services Field Office – Flagstaff sub-office, was recently awarded the National Award for Outstanding Achievement in National Rangeland Management for his participation on the Wallow Fire Range Restocking Team. Dave worked in close collaboration with U.S. Forest Service staff to evaluate grazing on approximately 18 allotments following damage from the May 2011 Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history. Smith was nominated by USFS staff.

Learn more...


Mexican Wolf Losses
-Two female Mexican wolves die during annual population count and capture operations

Febraury 2016
Two Mexican wolves (F1295 and F1340) died during the annual population count and capture operation this year.  Both will undergo necropsies at the Fish and Wildlife Service's Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, to determine causes of death for each wolf.

The Interagency Field Team (IFT) temporarily suspended capture operations to conduct a review of events leading to the captures and deaths. The techniques, protocol, and drugs used were the same as those used throughout this year's count and last year's count.  F1295 was darted and processed on January 23, released back into the wild and died four days later. F1340 was captured on January 28, and died within minutes of being darted. This year, 13 male and female wolves have been successfully darted, processed, collared and released back into the wild.

Learn more...


monarch butterfly on purple flowers

The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable wildlife species in America. Photo cedit: R. Hansen, USFWS.

City of San Antonio Steps It Up For Monarchs

January 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its many partners have been working diligently to help save the monarch butterfly. One of our partners, The National Wildlife Federation, has created the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge that helps cities take specific actions to benefit this iconic species and the city of San Antonio, Texas is on board! Not only has the Mayor signed this new Pledge, on March 4 the San Antonio Zoo will host the city’s first Milkweed & Migration Festival to help the community celebrate the monarch butterfly and to highlight the signing of the Pledge.

Mayors' Monarch Pledge

Event Information
Save The Monarch


Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery Biologist Discusses Work with Alligator Snapping Turtles and Paddlefish

January 2016
If you would like to hear Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery biologist Brian Fillmore discussing his work with alligator snapping turtles and paddlefish and then Dan Collins, Migratory Bird Coordinator in the Southwest Region, weighing in on waterfowl management and the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial, tune in to Bass Pro Outdoor World Rural Radio, Saturday, Jan 30, on Sirius XM 147, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM ET

Top photo: Brian Fillmore with an alligator gar, Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery, photo credit: USFWS. Bottom photo: Southwest Region Migratory Bird Coordinator, Dan Collins, with his son on a successful hunt. Photo credit: © Chris Nicolai.

Listen to the Brian Fillmore radio interview on alligator turtles and paddlefish.

Listen to Dan Collins radio interview on waterfowl management.



MRG graduation.

A crew member shares their experience with the group. Photo credit: USFWS.

Middle Rio Grande Urban Conservation Corps Marks Successful First Year

January 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, along with its many supporting partners,

Joy Nicholopoulos addresses the MRG graduation.

Deputy Regional Director
Joy Nicholopoulos provided opening remarks at the celebration. Photo credit: USFWS.

celebrated the inaugural crews of the Middle Rio Grande Urban Conservation Corps Program. 

This new urban youth employment program moves beyond traditional boundaries of summer youth employment. 

The Middle Rio Grande Urban Conservation Corps Program provides local youth with meaningful employment through conservation stewardship work but also focuses on the development of individual participants by providing mentoring, cultural awareness, essential job skills, college prep, environmental education, and outdoor recreation skills.

The Graduation Ceremony highlighted the many conservation projects the crews accomplished this past summer and fall as well as each member’s completion of the Program.  

Learn more...


Ottine dam destruction

Photo credit: USFWS.

Ottine Dam Removal Will Benefit Fish and Wildlife in San Marcos River

January 2016
The much anticipated removal of the 104 year old historical dam located on the San Marcos River in Gonzales County is finally underway. The dam damaged by a storm in 2008 was originally scheduled to be removed in 2012. Removal of the Ottine Dam is good news for the fish and other aquatic species of the river, as well as recreational organizations that sponsor events on this stretch of the San Marcos River. The project is expected to be completed by the end of January.

Learn more...
Watch the Texas Parks and Wildlife video of the dam removal.


Revised Policy Strengthens Collaboration Between Service, Native American Tribes for Conservation of Shared Natural Heritage

January 2016
Native American leaders and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) officials gathered today [January 20, 2016] to recognize new measures to strengthen the agency’s 20-year-old policy guiding government-to-government relations between tribes and the agency. Service Director Dan Ashe signed the updated Native American Policy (NAP) during a Washington, D.C., ceremony attended by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Michael Bean and numerous tribal representatives. The Service manages lands and resources of great importance to tribes.

Learn more...



Rhino. Photo credit: USFWS.

Irish National Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison for Trafficking in Endangered Rhinoceros Horns

January 2016
Department of Justice - Patrick Sheridan, an Irish national, was sentenced in federal court in Waco, Texas, today to 12 months in prison for conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act in relation to illegal rhinoceros horn trafficking, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice  and U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin Jr. for the Western District of Texas and Director Dan Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Learn more...

Whooping Crane

Whooping crane. Photo credit: USFWS.

Jefferson County Man Arrested for Killing Whooping Cranes

January 2016
BEAUMONT, Texas – U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced that an 18-year-old Beaumont, Texas man has been arrested for federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas. Trey Joseph Frederick was arrested today pursuant to a criminal complaint issued by the U.S. District Court charging him with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Frederick appeared in federal court this afternoon on the charges.

Learn more...


A Calendar of Great Festivals on or near National Wildlife Refuges
Super Bird fests 2016

January 2016
New birder or old hand? No matter. It’s hard not to be moved by the sight of more birds erupting in flight than you’ve ever seen in your life.National wildlife refuges make great bird festival sites because so many of these special places are located along the country’s key migratory bird routes. Many festivals coincide with spring or fall migration. Here are some great refuge bird festivals to catch in 2016.

Learn more...

Johnston's frankenia plat

Johnston's Frankenia plant. Photo credit: USFWS.

Johnston’s Frankenia Removed From Endangered Species Act
Number of plants exceeds 4 million in Texas and Northeast Mexico

January 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Johnston’s frankenia will be removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants.  Once thought to number less than 1,000 plants, the best available information now indicates that there are over 4 million plants in at least 68 locations throughout southwest Texas and northeast Mexico.  Johnston’s frankenia was listed on August 7, 1984, as endangered.

The Service is also announcing the availability of the Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan for Johnston’s frankenia.  The post-delisting monitoring plan was developed in cooperation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, The Nature Conservancy, and Texas Department of Transportation. 

Learn more...
Federal Register Notice

red tailed hawk

Red tailed hawk in flight. Photo credit: C. Koppie, USWFS.

Rice Farmer Convicted and Fined for Poisoning Birds

January 2016
Southwest Region Special Agent in Charge Nicholas E. Chavez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in cooperation with U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced that the operator of a Danbury rice farm has entered a guilty plea to illegally killing 65 brown-headed cowbirds and four red-tailed hawks.

Nelson Bulanek, 54, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jason B. Libby today. Bulanek was ordered to pay a $10,000 community service payment to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Operation Game Thief Program and must serve two years of probation.

Learn more...


SOR signing

Dr. Benjamin Tuggle signs the Region;s SOR with the Gila River Indian Community. Photo credit: Joe Early, USFWS.

Statement of Relationship Signed Between Gila River Indian Community and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Southwest Region

January 2016
On Tuesday, January 5, 2016, a Statement of Relationship (SOR) was signed between the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) Southwest Region.  Signing on behalf of the tribe was Governor Stephen R. Lewis and signing on behalf of the Southwest Region was Regional Director, Dr. Benjamin Tuggle. 

Learn more about SORs and the only Region that supports them...



A remote camera captures a small heard of Sonoran pronghorn at a water hole on Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. Photo credit: USFWS.

Hopes Run High for the Sonoran Pronghorn

January 2016
In southwest Arizona, wildlife biologists are aiming high for the recovery of the endangered Sonoran pronghorn.  This classic range animal that is capable of roaming 1 million acres for food and water has been on the Endangered Species List since 1967, but hope abounds that it may be headed for a rebound.  The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and its many partners are optimistic good things are in store for this desert survivor.

Read Article
Learn More... 


gila trout

Retired broodstock male Gila trout caught by Nathan Wiese at Frye Mesa Reservoir, Graham County, Ariz. Photo credit: Nathan Wiese, USFWS.

Excess Threatened Gila Trout to be Stocked for Recreational Angling

December 2015
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will stock approximately 10,000 threatened Gila trout that currently average five inches to waters near Silver City, New Mexico. The stockings are planned to take place during the first week of January.  These fish will grow to the catchable nine-inch range by Memorial Day weekend, the official start of summer.

In partnership with the Gila National Forest, Arizona and New Mexico game and fish departments, and Trout Unlimited, the Service has met recovery stocking goals set for 2015. The trout to be stocked early next year are in excess to those recovery needs and have been made available to support the recreational fishing opportunities specifically allowed for this species under programs managed by the states of Arizona and New Mexico.

Learn more...

Rancho Sierra

Rancho Sierra. Photo credit: Jennifer Blair, CWB.

Service Approves City of San Antonio and Bexar County Plan to Conserve Nine Federally Listed Species
Habitat Conservation Plan will minimize impacts from development

Over the last several years the City of San Antonio and Bexar County, Texas, in cooperation with the Service worked together to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for nine listed species in one of the fastest growing areas of the country. The HCP maximizes the conservation benefits for the species while providing a streamlined ESA compliance process for businesses and residents to address the impacts of infrastructure and commercial and residential development in Bexar County and the City of San Antonio. The HCP and associated incidental take permit are authorized for 30 years.

Rea additional information, including the Service's Record of Decision (ROD) .
Learn more...
Federal Register Notice


Oil and Gas

USFWS oil and gas specialist inspects an oil production site at Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Photo credit: USFWS.

Proposed Improvements to 50 Year-old Regulations Governing Oil and Gas Development on Refuge System Lands

December 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement to update 50 year-old regulations governing the management of non-federal oil and gas development on National Wildlife Refuge System lands. The proposed revisions continue to allow for the responsible extraction of oil and gas, but require closer adherence to industry best management practices – especially with respect to abandoned infrastructure and debris. The regulations will reduce refuge impacts, including habitat loss and degradation, wildlife mortality and displacement, and other risks to ecological integrity.

Read the news release
Learn more...


Tony Amos

Recovery Champion Award Recipient Mr. Tony Amos works with one of the rescued injured turtles at the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute at Corpus Christi, TX. Photo credit: USFWS.

Recovery Champion Award

December 2015
Mr. Anthony (Tony) Amos, Director of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK), University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) has been awarded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Recovery Champion Award for the Southwest Region, presented December 9, 2015, in Corpus Christi, TX. The award is “given annually to a non-service employee who has aided in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.”

Tony Amos has been a major contributor to the knowledge base regarding migrating and overwintering listed shorebirds including piping plovers and red knots. His contributions are not limited to birds however, as he has also been a major partner to the Service and NOAA Fisheries with recovery work related to endangered and threatened sea turtles.

Learn more about Tony Amos' recovery efforts




Photo of project partners at Sevilleta NWR
Project partners (l-r) Kathy Granillo (USFWS), Dr. Benjamin Tuggle (USFWS), Dustin Armstrong (BR), Jennifer Faler (BR), Deborah Dixon (ISC), and Grace Haggerty (ISC).

Partners Lend a Hand for Habitat

December 2015
The old saying “you can’t do it alone” rung true this week as Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico recognized its partners that are helping the Refuge restore habitat for threatened and endangered species along the Rio Grande.

The Refuge was awarded a $350,000 grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Recovery Initiative, a program that provides funding to national wildlife refuges to assist in the recovery of federally threatened or endangered species.

To make this project a reality, the Refuge partnered with the Bureau of Reclamation and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission to restore approximately 60 acres of habitat for the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo, as well many other riparian species.

Learn more about Sevilleta NWR:

Cooperative Recovery Initative:


NAS Report Cover page
Review of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives report cover page

Review of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

December 2015
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its Review of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives today, which concludes that a landscape approach is needed to meet the nation’s conservation challenges and that the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) provide a framework for addressing that need.

The Academy’s recommendations will further help each organization and agency, including the FWS, engaged in the LCC Network to take stock of progress to ensure that, collectively, the program is efficiently and effectively addressing landscape-scale conservation priorities using the best science available. Read more about the National Academy of Sciences Review of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives and learn more about Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in the Southwest here.


Regional employees enjoy the celebration

Regional employees enjoy the celebration. Photo Credit:Beth Ullenberg, USFWS

Southwest Region Celebrates Its Most Precious Resource. Our Employees!

December 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region held its first annual Employee Awards Ceremony at the Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Employees from across the four state Region were recognized for their outstanding work in conservation. 13 individual and team Awards were handed out in categories that covered safety, scientific excellence, innovation, partnership building, supervision, and more. The Hotel Andaluz provided a perfect setting for the event which was hosted by Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle and Deputy Regional Director Joy Nicholopoulos.

See the Awards Ceremony Program 

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
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: February 11, 2016