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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Push Against Trafficking of Elephant Ivory Grows

Elephants cross a river in Zambia. Photo by Alex Berger/Fickr Creative Commons

World Wildlife Day last Tuesday gave people everywhere an opportunity to show that they were serious about wildlife crime by adding their voice to a global social media campaign and tweeting, Instagramming or otherwise sharing a photograph of them holding a World Wildlife Day message with the hashtag #seriousaboutwildlifecrime. Many people (including Service employees) did just that. We have also been hearing some great news in the fight against the trafficking of elephant ivory.


Pick your Favorite National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater NWR
Established as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is also home to many bald eagles. Photo by Eileen Wise

UPDATE: Voting ends on Monday, March 30 at noon ET.  Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is still leading. View the standings.

On March l4, l903, President Theodore Roosevelt established Pelican Island as the first federal bird reservation. It was the first time the federal government set aside land for the sake of wildlife, and Pelican Island “Refuge” became the first unit of the present National Wildlife Refuge System. 

Now, 112 years later, USA TODAY had a panel of experts whittle down the more than 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System to 20 nominees and it invites you to pick your favorite National Wildlife Refuge.

Learn More and VOTE


Rowan Gould: 38 Years of ‘Doing Something More Important, Bigger Than You Are’

Rowan Gould
Rowan helps a student fishing at the Constitution Gardens Pond in Washington, DC, at a fishing derby in 2012. Photo by Lavonda Walton/USFWS

“I’m just Rowan,” says Dr. Rowan Gould, the Service’s newly retired Deputy Director for Operations, when talking about a story on his retirement.

It doesn’t matter that in an email announcing the retirement Service Director Dan Ashe called him “our Glue Guy,” a basketball term that refers to players who consistently put the team first and do all the little things to enable it to succeed.

It doesn’t matter that twice Rowan served as acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or that he led the Department of the Interior’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as he had years earlier with the Service response to the Exxon Valdez spill  in Alaska.

And it certainly doesn’t matter that he has a room full of awards from his 38-year Service career, including the Presidential Rank Distinguished Service Award, the Meritorious Service Award and the Gold Secretarial Executive Leadership Award.

“There are so many people in the Fish and Wildlife Service,” Rowan says, who “have done more, better than I’ve ever even thought of.”


Trout Go to School

Angela James
James and students calculate feed rates for the Rio Grand cutthroat trout at Monte Vista Elementary School. Photo by Jessie Jobs/USFWS

Jessie Jobs accompanied the Service’s Angela James and Glenn Selby, a biologist with the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, as they delivered Rio Grande cutthroat trout from the Seven Springs State Hatchery in Jemez, New Mexico, to Emerson and Monte Vista elementary schools. With the deliveries, the Native Fish in the Classroom Program, run by the Service’s New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, is in full swing for the season. The program is in its fourth year and is administered by James. This year’s program will reach 16 classrooms in six schools of the Albuquerque area. 

Read ‘The Fish Are Here!’

‘The Cream of the Crop’ on Refuges

Members of the Friends of the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge lead their ECOLAB (Every Child Outside Learning About Bosque) program with San Antonio Elementary second- and third-grade students hiking out to a soil pit to study the soil profile in the Rio Grande floodplain. Photo Credit: Friends of the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Congratulations to:

Depending on the way you look at it, choosing these winners of the annual National Wildlife Refuge System Awards is either like catching fish in a barrel or like catching one individual fish in Lake Superior. That is to say, either really easy or quite difficult.


Remembering Noreen Clough

Noreen Clough
Noreen Clough with an alligator at Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery in Georgia.

Women have a long and proud history, both in the Service and in conservation. Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring alerted the American public to the dangers of the indiscriminate use of pesticides; Lucille Stickel, longtime Director of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Elizabeth Losey, the first female field research biologist in the Service; and scores of other women have used their many and varied talents to protect the wild things and wild places of the world.

RELATED: Some of the amazing women working for the Service today

Earlier this year, we lost one such pioneer in the conservation world. Former Southeast Region Regional Director Noreen Clough, the first woman to serve as Regional Director for the Service, died January 16 at age 71 after a battle with cancer.


A Favorite Uncle



Fishery Biologist Dan Magneson, the assistant hatchery manager at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery in Washington, remembers a big influence.

If you are lucky, during the course of your life you’ll run into a few people who exert a profound influence on you, and leave you with loads of treasured memories. 

And if you are luckier still, they will turn out to be one of your own relatives.

I have had a lot of really great male relatives, but like so many other folks, they seemed mostly consumed and held captive by the demands of their jobs.  But not so one of my uncles; he operated a bulldozer for a small construction outfit, but wasn’t one to place the pursuit of money over quality time spent outdoors.  While so many others slaved and strived to get further ahead, he was pretty much content with life as it was.  Had he been born one or two hundred years earlier, he likely would have been a mountain man, a beaver trapper or maybe a market hunter.


Midwest Regional Director to Serve on Monarch Joint Venture Steering Committee

Tom Melius
Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius joins Monarch Joint Venture steering committee. Photos by USFWS.

As we continue to marshal our forces to save the monarch butterfly, we are lucky to have our Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative on the Monarch Joint Venture Steering Committee.

Tom has provided expert leadership on monarch conservation across our Midwest Region includes eight states in the heart of the monarch’s range, including 1.29 million acres of national wildlife refuge system lands. Now, he will help guide conservation implementation across the country.

“We’re excited to have Tom on our team,” says Dr. Karen Oberhauser, Monarch Joint Venture Steering Committee Co-Chair. "His leadership as the regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region will be invaluable as we ramp up monarch conservation across the country."

The Monarch Joint Venture is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs that are working together to support and coordinate efforts to protect the monarch migration across the lower 48 United States.

Building Our Partnership with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity

Less than a year ago, we began working with African-American fraternity Phi Beta Sigma to engage urban youth in conservation, the natural world and biological sciences.

With 80 percent of Americans living in cities, we know we must do more to forge a connection between nature and urban communities.  Our efforts will pay off for them – regular time in the outdoors has been shown to benefit physical, mental and emotional health – for the community – natural systems provide us with clean air, water, jobs and lots more – and for us – as we develop a new generation of conservationists.

Since our leaders signed that Memorandum of Understanding, the folks with “boots on the ground” have been coordinating visits to National Wildlife Refuges to show Sigmas some of the opportunities available there. Our refuge managers also benefit by building relationships with people in the local community.


Got Questions for Wildlife Crime Solvers?

Our Wildlife Forensics Laboratory takes your questions live.


On March 3 at 1 pm EST (10 am PST), in honor of World Wildlife Day, we’ll host a live question-and-answer session and behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Forensics Laboratory - the first and only full-service wildlife forensics lab in the world.


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