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  • Young bull elk / Refuge remote camera, USFWS

    Sharing Our Firsts With You

    With our refuge closed to the public, we're highlighting animals seen for the first time on the refuge since its establishment in 1941!

  • Black bear photographed on the refuge (blonde coated) / M. Weisenberger, USFWS

    Most Startling!

    A few years ago, the first documented and photographed black bear was sighted on the refuge! A few more are seen today. Blonde coat color.

    North American black bear

  • Male painted redstart songbird / M. Weisenberger, USFWS

    Something to Tweet About

    An adult painted redstart sighting was a new bird species record for the refuge and White Sands Missile Range in Doña Ana County. A Male.

  • Javelina trio / Refuge remote camera, USFWS

    Having a "Rootin" Good Time!

    Javelina, or collared peccary, are regularly seen on the refuge now! Their rooting behavior digs up cactus and plants to feed upon.

  • Northern parula warbler female / J. Gahr, USFWS

    Our Most Recent Visitor

    During the refuge's current bird banding season, a new visitor was seen for the first time. A male Nashville warbler. Another Record!

Introducing San Andres National Wildlife Refuge To You!

Bringing San Andres National Wildlife Refuge to You

Desert bighorn sheep ewe with lamb / © Christina Rodden, DOD-WSMR

Our public website strives to bring the scenic beauty of San Andres National Wildlife Refuge to you. The refuge is not open to the public due to its location and for security and safety protocols. Minimal access on the refuge preserves its pristine habitat which provides an invaluable natural laboratory for scientific and research studies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have over 125 National Wildlife Refuges that are regularly closed to the public due to their location, for the protection of key species, and for public safety. San Andres National Wildlife Refuge's lands and native species will continue to be preserved to their historic state for generations to come.

No Public Access


Tales of Historic Legends

Historic rock house on refuge / M. Weisenberger, USFWS

The refuge’s namesake, the San Andres Mountains, was named in honor of Saint Andrew the Apostle by early Spanish settlers at the tiny village of Las Padillas. The history of the San Andres Mountains is rich with legends of lost gold mines and outlaws. The area was occupied as early as 900 A.D. by Native Americans. Remnants of rock houses and mines throughout the range are evidence of heavy mining activity in the area during the late 1800's and early 1900's. The mountains are reported to have been the stomping grounds of Black Jack Ketchem and the Apache Chief Geronimo. Apache Chief Victorio also frequented the San Andres Mountains with his warriors, and fought several skirmishes with the United States Cavalry. One legend tale is that a rock house in the area was at one time used by the outlaw William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid.

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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Rough and Rugged

  • Pioneering Refuge Manager

    28 hour old desert bighorn sheep lamb

    San Andres National Wildlife Refuge's second Refuge Manager, Cecil Kennedy, was a real cowboy. He served as the refuge's Manager for 23 years before his retirement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He was one of the last refuge managers to conduct wildlife surveys on foot and horseback. A quote, from one of Kennedy's fellow refuge employees, Tom Emanuel, describes Kennedy as “looking like John Wayne.” "He was daring on horseback. He would do things others would consider risky, to cover the area. He was very good at what he did.” Tom Emanuel also remembers how "Kennedy loved those sheep." (This referred to a native, remnant herd of desert bighorn sheep. It was for the preservation and protection of this historic herd that initiated the establishment of San Andres National Wildlife Refuge.) Kennedy conducted ground surveys on the refuge to make sure every desert bighorn lamb was counted. The photo above is of a 28 hour old desert bighorn sheep lamb whose birth was observed by refuge staff.

    A Look Back . . . Cecil Kennedy
  • Leader in Energy Conservation

    Refuge office Wind Generator at sunrise / C. Bartram, USFWS

    San Andres National Wildlife Refuge was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy with a 2008 Federal Energy and Water Management Award. This honor was for efficient use of wind and water natural resources. The refuge is an area leader in the use of hybrid solar photovoltaic and wind energy systems.

  • Refuge Facebook Page Coming

    Mountain lion in riparian spring / Refuge remote camera, USFWS

    The refuge will be developing its own Facebook page soon so that you can see continually current photos of refuge wildlife from our refuge remote cameras. Be sure and check back for the launch date of the site!

Page Photo Credits — Refuge desert bighorn sheep ewes and young ram in crevice / © C. Rodden, USDOD, Young bull elk, javelina trio, and mountain lion / Refuge remote cameras, USFWS, Black bear photographed on the refuge (blonde coated) / M. Weisenberger, USFWS, Black bear with blonde coat, male painted redstart songbird, and building remains / M. Weisenberger, USFWS, Nashville warbler male / J. Gahr, USFWS, Historic rock house on refuge / M. Weisenberger, USFWS, 28 hour old desert bighorn sheep lamb whose birth was observed by refuge staff / USFWS, Refuge office Wind Generator at sunrise / C. Bartram, USFWS, Mountain lion / Refuge remote camera, USFWS, Desert bighorn sheep ewe with lamb / © C. Rodden, USDOD
Last Updated: Nov 24, 2015
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