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  • Pronghorn_218x116

    Sonoran Pronghorn

    The Sonoran pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in North America and can run at speeds up to 60 miles per hour.

    Sonoran Pronghorn

  • Rattlesnake_218x116

    Native Reptiles

    At least 21 types of snakes call the refuge home, including 6 rattlesnake species. They are an important part of the desert community.

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    Exciting Night Life

    When the sun sets and the desert cools, a host of refuge animals stir, including ringtail cats, pocket mice and 11 species of bats.

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    Cryptic Critters

    Light-colored fur helps mammals reflect heat rather than soak it in. The scales of lizards serve the same purpose.

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    Going Underground

    Many desert animals burrow, including tortoise. They burrow down (sometimes up to many feet) to avoid the summer heat and winter cold.


Protecting Fawns


Due to the success of recovery efforts, pronghorn numbers have increased to historic average numbers. To protect the young Sonoran pronghorn, much of the refuge had been closed since 2003 during fawning season but the closure is now suspended. However, the Barry M. Goldwater West Range remains closed during the fawning season of March 15 - July 15. This closure effects the entrance and exit at the Tacna exit south of I-8. Visitors on the Cabeza Prieta can use the Christmas Pass Road but must turn back when reaching the north boundary of the wildlife refuge.

During Fawning Season

About the NWRS

National Wildlife Refuge System


The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.

Learn more about the NWRS  

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El Paso Natural Gas Compatibility Determination

El Paso Natural Gas Compatability Determination

The refuge is seeking public comment on the Compatability Determination to renew and existing permit for El Paso Natural Gas Company to maintain communication equipment on Childs Mountain. Please submit you comments to or in writing at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Attn: Mary Kralovec, Assistant Refuge Manager, 1611 N. Second St., Ajo AZ 85321. The refuge will be taking public comment on this document until 11/06/2015.

El Pas Natural Gas Compatibility Determination
Page Photo Credits — All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted., Lesser long-nosed bats / USFWS, Horned Lizard / Johnida Dockens ©, Pronghorn / Steve Hillebrand ©, Black-tailed Rattlesnake / Gary M Stoltz ©
Last Updated: Nov 06, 2015


  • Past, Present, and Future of the Sonoran Desert

    March 07, 2016 - March 10, 2016

    The Ajo Symposium will offer presentations about the natural and cultural ecology of people living in the Sonoran Desert.

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