Facebook icon Twitter icon Flicker icon You Tube icon

Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Special Delivery: Wildlife!

Caution: Saving a species may require heavy lifting – literally picking up wild animals and moving them long distances.

Big animals. Small animals. Skittish, furtive or aggressive animals. Regardless, the same biological rules apply: To better the odds of survival, rare species need more than one population base and the widest gene pool possible.

This spring, Northwesterners got a glimpse of the challenges involved when our staff netted, sedated and trucked 49 endangered Columbian white-tailed deer from Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, 60 miles southeast in Washington state.

deer_moveA Columbian white-tailed deer in transit at Julia Butler Hansen Refuge in Washington. (Photo: USFWS)

The deer were moved to protect them from the threat posed by an eroding dike between the Columbia River and Hansen Refuge: If the dike failed, flooding might otherwise wipe out the species. A few deer were even flown a short distance by helicopter, suspended by slings.

[More]

Get a Rare Look Inside an 'Inaccessible' Refuge

By Cindy Sandoval, USFWS

We as an agency manage over 530 national wildlife refuges across the country. Most of the refuges are open to the public to visit and experience America’s plants and wildlife first hand.

There are, however, some refuges that are closed to protect wildlife and the habitat they need to survive.

One such refuge is Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge, within the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation, Pyramid Lake, Nev.

anahoWhile Service employees regularly visit this Refuge, it's closed to the public year-round. (Photo: Cindy Sandoval/USFWS)

Founded as a refuge in 1913, the desert shores of Anaho Island see Service staff, the occasional stranded boater, thousands of nesting birds ... and not much else.

[More]

Dragonflies Drive Dedicated Fans to Refuges

They’re not dragons, and they’re not flies.

But they boast a swelling fan base.

You might call dragonflies the stunt pilots of the insect world. They wear flashy colors, dart at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, boast ancestors that predate dinosaurs ... and they even mate in mid-air.

dragonfliesGreen darner dragonflies at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo: J.N. Stuart/Creative Commons)

These are just some of the reasons that the insects are gaining attention, both on and off national wildlife refuges. Dragonfly festivals are popping up across the country and a crop of new field guides are making the rounds around American towns and cities.

[More]

Federal Wildlife Canine Sniffs Out Trouble

By Jeff Lucas, USFWS

It was a cool, crisp morning on the Upper Mississippi River NWFR in Illinois.

For years, Federal Wildlife Officer Darryn Witt had heard about a group of waterfowl hunters taking over-limits of ducks in a remote area of the Refuge.

On this day, along with his partner, Federal Wildlife Canine Rudi, Officer Witt sat up on a vantage point hoping to finally get a glimpse of this elusive hunting party that he had heard so much about. On this day, Officer Witt and Rudi were in the right place at the right time.

rudiRudi helped Officer Witt find this stash of ducks. (Photo: USFWS)

Officer Witt observed two hunters shoot 18 ducks. On two separate occasions the hunters left the marsh to hide their take into the woods nearby and return for more. The daily limit is 6 ducks.

[More]

Balloon Dress Highlights Marine Debris Damage

By Susan Morse, USFWS

There’s no missing Jessica Flory.

This sixteen-year-old gets it.

The volunteer at Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge tells people how balloons and other plastic discards end up on beaches where they choke turtles and seabirds. Then she asks listeners to pledge not to release balloons outdoors; hundreds have signed.

She’s decked out in a dress she made from 87 balloons that refuge staff collected from a coastal island before animals could swallow them. “Hey mom, look,” she hears a kid say. “She’s wearing that because she wants to save the turtles.”

balloon_dressJessica Flory in balloon dress and sister Hailey on Cape Charles Beach (Photo: Becky Flory)

We’ve all seen the images: Broken boats, trees, docks, what-have-you, swept away by Hurricane Sandy or the 2011 tsunami in Japan and washed ashore miles – sometimes thousands of miles − away.

[More]

'Tis the Season ... to Visit a National Wildlife Refuge

By Susan Morse, USFWS

Heading to a national wildlife refuge soon?

Well, you've certainly picked a terrific time of year!

Some special rewards for visiting a refuge in late fall come compliments of Mother Nature. See and hear such thrilling natural spectacles as great flocks of migratory birds winging south for the winter or elk bucks bugling for a mate.

cranesCranes soar at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo: USFWS)

Other enhancements get a hand from people: As Thanksgiving approaches, you’ll find many wildlife refuges in a holiday-season mood, hosting holiday open houses and special holiday tours.

[More]

Where the Fun Begins

By Heather Dewar, USFWS

You’re in on America’s best-kept secret. You know there’s a national wildlife refuge in just about every corner of America, embracing every kind of landscape -- from coral reefs to mountaintop glaciers.

You know the nation’s 560 wildlife refuges offer outdoor adventures and natural spectacles so extraordinary, you’ll remember them for life.

You know refuges are places where you can quietly let the peace of nature seep into your spirit, or take a challenging trek that brings you home dusty, tired, and elated.

Or you can join our work; experience the deep satisfaction of planting a tree, helping a baby turtle reach the sea, or teaching a child how to tag a butterfly and set it free.

Now that you know, you’ll want to get in the game. Here’s how:

[More]

Refuges Are Critical to Recovery of Sea Turtles

By Stacy Shelton, USFWS

National wildlife refuges are America’s promise to itself that there will always be places for wildlife in our midst.

Consider the critical importance of coastal refuges in the recovery of sea turtles. Roughly 30 percent of loggerhead sea turtle nests found in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are laid on national wildlife refuges.

wassaw-turtleA loggerhead on Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia returns to the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo: USFWS)


In Peninsular Florida, which has the greatest number of loggerhead sea turtle nests in the United States, about one-quarter are found on national wildlife refuges. Refuges in the Florida Panhandle and Alabama are also important nesting areas for loggerheads that are part of a small, but genetically different, population in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Refuges in U.S. territories in the Caribbean provide very important nesting habitat for leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles; in Hawaii, over 90 percent of green turtle nesting occurs on refuge beaches.

In this Q&A, Sandy MacPherson, the national sea turtle coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1998, and the Southeast sea turtle coordinator from 1994 to 1998, talks about conserving sea turtles.

[More]

Urban Refuges in Action

By Kim Strassburg, USFWS

What, exactly, happens at an urban refuge?

The idea might come across initially as an oxymoron to some, but that is far from the truth.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is located in Portland, Oregon, and serves as an excellent example of a place where even a city-sized community can engage with nature in a meaningful way.

While a group of 8 to 10-year-olds work on nature photography, Portland Community College conservation biology students explore the refuge trails and interact with staff to learn about wildlife management and conservation careers.

StudenstonrefugeStudents expolore the Refuge. (Photo: USFWS)

While pre-school groups make crafts in the Discovery Classroom and walk the trails, teens from a North Portland Youth Employment Institute program explore the Refuge with a volunteer naturalist.

[More]

Quick Facts About Duck Stamps

Duck Stamps go on sale tomorrow!

Are you ready?

duckstampJoseph Hautman of Plymouth, Minnesota, won the 2011 Federal Duck Stamp Contest. His art has been made into the 2012-2013 Federal Duck Stamp. (Photo: USFWS)

Here are some fun facts to get you revved up to make your purchase! 

Did you know ....

  • Duck Stamps are not postage stamps! Besides serving as a hunting license and a conservation tool, a current year's Federal Duck Stamp also serves as an entrance pass for National Wildlife Refuges where admission is normally charged. Duck Stamps and the products that bear duck stamp images are also popular collector items.

  • Duck Stamps benefit wildlife! Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sales of Federal Duck Stamps goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

  • Duck Stamps help kids learn about conservation! In 1989, the first Junior Duck Stamps were produced. Junior Duck Stamps are now the capstone of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Junior Duck Stamp environmental education program, teaching students across the nation "conservation through the arts." Revenue generated by the sales of Junior Duck Stamps funds environmental education programs across the country!

Learn more about how and why you should consider buying a Duck Stamp!

More Entries