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Scores of Events to Celebrate Wildlife Refuge System Birthday

Pelicans fly over Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the first national wildlife refuge.

Pelicans fly over Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the first national wildlife refuge.

Credit: USFWS
At Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland, volunteers and staff help with children's crafts and activities at the 2010 Birthday Bash for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The March 2011 birthday will be marked by celebrations at Patuxent Refuge and refuges around the country.

At Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland, volunteers and staff help with children's crafts and activities at the 2010 Birthday Bash for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The March 2011 birthday will be marked by celebrations at Patuxent Refuge and refuges around the country.

Credit: USFWS
The Refuge System birthday in March 2011 will be the first day of seasonal tram tours (weather permitting) at Patuxent Research Refuge.

The Refuge System birthday in March 2011 will be the first day of seasonal tram tours (weather permitting) at Patuxent Research Refuge.

Credit: USFWS

Scores of national wildlife refuges will hold open houses and other public events to celebrate the Wildlife Refuge System's 108th birthday on March 14, 2011.

On this date in 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Florida's Pelican Island to protect wild birds from bounty hunters. Said President Roosevelt: "Wild beasts and birds are by right not the property merely of the people who are alive today, but the property of unknown generations, whose belongings we have no right to squander." He would go on to protect 52 more areas as wildlife sanctuaries before leaving office. Today, the Refuge System's 553 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts support at least 700 species of birds, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, more than 1,000 species of fish and countless invertebrates and plants.

A few examples of refuge celebrations on or around the birthday follow. To find out if your local refuge has an event scheduled, use the "Find Your Refuge" feature on the Refuge System homepage. Or go to the Visitors tab on the yellow bar at the top of the page, and click on Special Events in the pull-down menu. Click on "Display All Events." Events are listed chronologically.

  • Attend the Refuge System Birthday Bash!         

Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Celebrate the birthday of the National Wildlife Refuge System. See live animals close up and enjoy performances by Reptile World. Includes wildlife habitat tram tours and children's activities and crafts. Learn more about Patuxent Refuge.

  • Enjoy an Open House in Honor of the Refuge System Birthday

Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Celebrate the Refuge System's birthday by taking part in free family events at the refuge. Take a free two-hour guided "behind the scenes" tour with refuge managers at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Advance registration is required. To reserve, call 541-757-7236. Take part in activities on prescribed fire, local wildlife and plants, law enforcement, wildlife photography and historic structures. Learn more about William L. Finley Refuge.

  • Attend a Family Event in Honor of the Refuge System Anniversary

Saturday, March 12, 1 to 4 p.m. — Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, LA
An anniversary celebration, called "Walk Where the Wildlife Walks," emphasizes refuge trails. Take a guided trail walk, try mystery geocaching or test yourself with challenge trail activities. Canoe the refuge's expanded canoe loop trail. Learn more about Black Bayou Lake Refuge.

  • Attend a Birthday Event

Saturday, March 12 — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Enjoy a free tram tour, and learn why it's important to preserve these and other public lands for generations to come. Learn more about Alligator River Refuge.

  • Attend the 19th Annual Pelican Island Wildlife Festival

Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Riverview Park, Sebastian, FL
Celebrate the 108th birthday of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System. Enjoy exhibits, wildlife shows, boat tours to Pelican Island, live music and kids' activities. Learn more about the festival. Learn more about Pelican Island Refuge.

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