Open Spaces : Refuges

Hot Fun in the Summertime -- At Your National Wildlife Refuges!

Longer days and warm nights mean many people are looking to spend as much time as possible outdoors this summer -- and we don't want you to overlook your national wildlife refuges as you plan summertime excursions!

yellow_flowersTake in views like this one, captured at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. 
(Photo: USFWS)

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Honoring Women in Conservation

What kind of mark have American women made on wildlife conservation?

A profound one.

First, meet some of the many talented women who manage refuges today. These include Shannon Smith, at Kaua'i National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Hawaii; Susan Silander, at the Caribbean Refuge Complex; Susan White, at the Pacific Reefs Refuge Complex; and Raye Nilius, at South Carolina’s Low Country Refuge Complex.

The pioneer era isn’t over. Just ask Heather Bartlett, not yet 30, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s only female pilot/law enforcement officer, assigned to the Arctic Refuge.

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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.

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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.

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'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.

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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:

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Recreation Magnets: National Wildlife Refuges

By Susan Morse

Thrill to world-class recreation on your national wildlife refuges during National Wildlife Refuge Week, Oct. 14 - 20 − or at any season of the year.

Like to fish, hunt, hike or paddle? You’ll find it all on national wildlife refuges.

fishing-day(Photo: Megan Nagel/USFWS)

You can also birdwatch or practice wildlife photography or snowshoe or stalk wild mushrooms on many refuges across the country.

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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.

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What's Up with the National Wildlife Refuge System?

There is a lot of news about our National Wildlife Refuge System this week!

bison(Bison graze on the prairie at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. Photo: USFWS)

Rise in Activity

For instance, did you know that participation in wildlife-associated recreation has increased in 28 states since 2006?

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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!

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Last updated: June 21, 2012