National Wildlife Refuge System

Speeding Wildlife Recovery


Wetland Restoration
Among the 17 projects funded in 2014 under the Cooperative Recovery Initiative is one in which U.L. Bend National Wildlife Refuge in Montana and Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge in Colorado will join forces for the benefit of the endangered black-footed ferret.
Credit: Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

April 24, 2014 - To speed wildlife recovery and perhaps avert extinctions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will award $5.8 million to 17 projects to recover threatened or endangered species on or near national wildlife refuges. Target species include whooping crane, Karner blue butterfly and Attwater’s prairie chicken.

The efforts are part of the Service’s Cooperative Recovery Initiative, begun in 2013 with $4.3 million in funding to 10 projects.

One beneficiary of 2013 funding – the Oregon chub – has recovered so well that in February the Service proposed removing the small fish from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife under the Endangered Species Act. If the action is finalized, the chub would be the first fish delisted with the help of this initiative.

As in 2013, funding will draw from several Service programs, including the Refuge System; Endangered Species; Partners for Fish and Wildlife; Fish and Aquatic Conservation; and the Science program. Projects include:

Alaska: Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. 1) Expand nest surveys for the spectacled eider, an endangered sea duck, to more reliably gauge population size. 2) Prepare to reintroduce Steller’s eider to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to establish a viable breeding population.

Arizona and New Mexico: San Bernardino and Leslie Canyon Refuges – Improve habitat for five fish (Yaqui chub, Yaqui top minnow, Huachuca water umbel, beautiful shiner and Yaqui catfish), one amphibian (Chiricahua leopard frog) and one invertebrate (San Bernardino springtail).

Colorado: Arapaho Refuge – Improve the status of the Wyoming toad, one of North America’s four most endangered amphibian species. Tactics include treating a chytrid fungus known as Bd that is killing wild toads.

Florida: Everglades Headwaters Refuge and Conservation Area – Encourage ranchers to manage lands to prevent extinction of the endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow.

Guam: Guam Refuge – Collect, propagate and plant seeds of the rare native tree Serianthes nelsonii. Only one adult tree survives in Guam; fewer than 50 survive on nearby Rota Island.

Iowa: Driftless Area Refuge and nearby sites – Establish and document six new colonies of endangered red Iowa Pleistocene snail.

Montana and Colorado:UL Bend and Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuges – Reintroduce endangered black-footed ferrets to Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge and control outbreaks of plague in its primary prey, the prairie dog. 

Nevada:Ash Meadows Refuge – 1) Establish and manage two populations of endangered Devil’s pupfish at the Ash Meadows Fish Conservation Facility. 2) Remove barriers facing Moapa dace.

New Hampshire: Great Bay Refuge – Restore early successional habitat to benefit the rare Karner blue butterfly. The New England cottontail may also benefit.

Oregon: Baskett Slough, William L. Finley and Ankeny Refuges – Recover golden paintbrush, a rare flowering plant.

Puerto Rico: Cabo Rojo and Laguna Cartagena Refuges – Recover six endangered plant species, including Woodbury’s stopper and Cobana negra.  

Texas: Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge – Step up control of invasive fire ants to improve survival of endangered Attwater’s prairie chicken hatchlings; Houston toad may also benefit.

Utah:  Ouray Refuge – Improve and expand habitat for an endangered razorback sucker.

Washington: Willapa Refuge – Establish two new populations of Columbian white-tailed deer.

Wisconsin: Necedah Refuge – Boost the hatching and fledgling rates of endangered whooping cranes by encouraging the birds to re-nest at a time when black flies won’t prompt nest abandonment.

Last updated: April 24, 2014