Southwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America
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Southwest Region Highlights HotTopics

red snapper in a cooler

Red snapper in a cooler. Credit: Office of Law Enforcement, USFWS.

Operation in the Red

August 2015
A multi-agency task force was organized as part of an investigation called OPERATION IN THE RED.   The purpose was to identify, apprehend, and prosecute individuals and businesses involved in the unlawful catch, possession, sale and purchase of red snapper along the Texas coast.  

Learn more...




rhino horn dagger

Rhino Horn Dagger seized by a Houston Wildlife Inspector. Credit: Dustin Hunt, USFWS.

Inspectors Seize Thousands of Illegal Animal Imports
Channel 2 Investigates U.S. Fish and Wildlife Seizures

August 2015
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Inspectors work at International Airports and Ports of Entry in the United States.  The Inspectors facilitate the expeditious movement of legal wildlife but also intercept shipments containing illegal or injurious wildlife into and outside the United States.  Channel 2 News from Houston conducted a story concerning the illegal wildlife seizures made by the Inspectors at Bush International Airport and by ships arriving with cargo from International countries.  Combating Wildlife Trafficking and disrupting or dismantling international and domestic criminal enterprises is a high priority for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement.   

Watch the video from Channel 2 News Houston.






"anxiarty" the black footed ferret

Anxiety, the black-footed ferret, has a new home at the Navajo zoo. Credit: David Mikesic, Navajo Zoo.

Navajo Nation Zoo and Botanical Park in Window Rock, Arizona, Welcomes a Black-footed Ferret

August 2015
Navajo Nation Zoo and Botanical Park in Window Rock, Arizona, welcomes "Anxiety" the black-footed ferret.  Anxiety was unveiled at the zoo to the delight of Navajo Nation leaders, children and a medicine man on August 19.  She is the fourth listed species represented at the zoo which also hosts, razorback suckers and Mesa Verde cactus, and has participated in the Mexican wolf breeding program for decades. This is the 4th endangered species for the zoo: wolves (part of the breeding program for decades), razorback sucker and Mesa Verde cactus.

urban refuges highlighted in USFWS video Credit: USFWS.
Urban Refuges Highlighted in USFWS Video

August 2015
Please take a moment to view this stunning and inspiring video on Urban Refuges featuring Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle, Jennifer Owen-White, Valle de Oro NWR Refuge Manager; Teri Jillson, Past President Friends of Valle de Oro; and Raymond VanBuskirk, Past President Central New Mexico Audubon Society.

Watch the video.


Student Workshop Wrap-up BrochureThe Student Wrap Up Workshop brochure. Credit: USFWS.
2015 Student Wrap Up Workshop

August 2015
The purpose of the 2015 Student Wrap-up Workshop is for students work in summer internship through Pathways Permanent and Temporary, DFP, CDIP and other student programs to meet each other and see what other students are doing in the conservation arena. We hope this program continues our efforts in the FWS, Southwest Region to create the next generation of conservation leaders. We aim to provide meaningful work opportunities for young people so that they have a positive experience that directly contributes to conservation and that has a lasting impact on our Nation. Here are some of our great future land stewards!

Learn more about the Southwest Region Student Programs



Willow Beach Fish hatchery win Saftey award

Willow Beach NFH staff recieve the 2014 Annual Excellence in Safety Award. Left to right: Tom Frew, Pat McDermott, Giovanni Cappelli, Andrew Flaten, Stephanie Karpowicz, Mark Olson, Joey Saccomanno, Joy Nicholopoulos, Scott Peterson, Stewart Jacks, and Tim Bundy. Photo credit: USFWS.

Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery Wins Southwest Region Safety Award for 2014

August 2015
Willow Beach NFH won the quarterly Safety Award (January 2014 - March 2014) and that put them in the running for the Annual Safety Award, competing against the other quarterly winners and field stations. The competition was stiff, but Willow Beach NFH edged out the other competitors with its leadership and assurance that all employees take safety seriously at their station. Leaders and staff participated in Safety Awareness Training held in Parker AZ in 2014. Project Leader Mark Olson and Assistant Project Leader Tom Frew are dedicated to providing safety programs and ensuring that all staff are properly trained. Tom Frew is also the Station's Collateral Duty Safety Officer, and in addition to keeping his own station safe, hehas completed Safety Assessments at other stations. Willow Beach NFH's safety plans are current and correctly implemented and their Safety Assessment results show continued dedication and attention to safety. The Southwest Region is proud to celebrate Willow Beach NFH as the winner of the 2014 Excellence in Safety award winner.

"Remember, no job or task is more important than keeping our employees, volunteers and visitors safe." -- Dr. Benjamin Tuggle


georgetown salamander

Georgetown Salamander. Photo credit: Nathan Bendik, City of Austin.

Service Approves Special Rule for Georgetown Salamander
Special Rule Supports a Local Solution to Conservation of the Georgetown Salamander

August 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved a final rule for the Georgetown salamander under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The rule enables development activities that may affect the threatened salamander to continue as long as they comply with the city’s development codes. The rule will facilitate the city’s efforts to promote sustainable development and cleaner water, which will benefit area residences, businesses and the Georgetown salamander.

“This serves as an excellent example of collaborative conservation of an endangered species, following several years of the Service and the City of Georgetown working together closely to conserve the Georgetown salamander,” said Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle. “We applaud the city’s efforts to address the needs of the species along with those of landowners and businesses. The 4(d) rule announced today encourages a locally based solution to conserving the species while enabling projects in the area to move forward.”

Learn more...
Federal Register Notice
Additional information is available at


summer interns

Matthew, Jackie, and Stephanie (in yellow t-shirts) pose with Refuge staff after their presentations. Photo credit: B. Ullenberg, USFWS.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

August 2015
While many college students may be spending their summer vacation working at a theme park or bagging groceries or assisting in an office, three adventurous students from different parts of the country spent their summer working with wildlife in the great outdoors! Jackie Albert from New York, Matthew Keeling from Maryland, and Stephanie Loo from California converged upon Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico to participate in the Refuge’s Internship Program. All helped with a variety of projects on the Refuge, including an intense study of the Refuge’s prairie dog restoration program. Early mornings, hot days, and long hours couldn’t dampen their enthusiasm for working with wildlife and experiencing the wonders of the vast New Mexico landscape. This week, they shared highlights of their work with staff at the Regional Office in Albuquerque, NM.

 Learn More about Student Opportunities 

Check Out Sevilleta NWR


Austin Blind Salamander

Austin Blind Salamander. Photo credit: © Liza Coluzzi, City of Austin, 2008.

Service Proposes Adding Austin Blind Salamander to the Barton Springs Salamander Recovery Plan

July 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the availability of a draft addendum to the 2005 Barton Springs salamander Recovery Plan to include the Austin blind salamander. By supplementing the Barton Springs salamander Recovery Plan with the draft addendum for the Austin blind salamander, we believe we can more efficiently and effectively recover the Austin blind salamander. The public will have 60 days to review and comment on the proposed addendum. Additional information on the draft addendum is available at

Learn more...
Federal Register Notice


2 pronghorns drink at watering hole

Pronghorns drink from watering hole. Photo credit: USFWS.

Service Soliciting Public Feedback on Draft Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Plan

July 2015
A draft plan to help guide recovery efforts for the endangered Sonoran pronghorn is now available for public review. The plan is a revision of the 1998 Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Plan. The impetus for this revision is new information obtained on Sonoran pronghorn, new identified threats to the species, and new management efforts in the U.S. and Mexico.
The draft recovery plan lays out a strategy to recover the pronghorn that includes protecting habitat; increasing and protecting current populations and establishing at least one new population; removing, reducing, or managing threats to the species; and identifying and addressing priority monitoring and research needs.

Learn more...


alligator snapping turtle, arizona toad, cascadecaverns salamander

Alligator snapping turtle, photo credit: USFWS; Arizona toad, photo credit: Jeff Servoss USFWs; and Cascade Caverns salamander, photo credit Nathan Bendik.

Service Initiates Status Review For Four Species In AZ, NM, TX, And OK

June 2015
The Service is announcing initiating status reviews for the Arizona toad, Cascade Caverns salamander, Rio Grande cooter (a turtle), and Alligator snapping turtle in response to a July 2012 petition from the Center of Biological Diversity.  Our announcement begins a 60-day information collection period which closes on August 31, 2015.

In the case of the Arizona toad, Cascade Caverns salamander, Rio Grande cooter and Alligator snapping turtle the Service has determined the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that these species may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement begins a 60-day information collection period which closes on August 31, 2015.

Learn more...
Federal Register Notice







Service Proposes Delisting the Hualapai Mexcian Vole

June 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove from the Endangered Species list the Hualapai Mexican vole of northwestern Arizona. The proposal is based on extensive reevaluation of the endangered subspecies’ status and updated genetic information. Publication of the proposal begins a 60-day comment period.

Learn more...
Read the published notice from the Federal Register, June 4, 2015.


Service Issues 90-Day Finding on BoneCave Harvestman Delisting Petition

June 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing that a petition to delist the Bone Cave harvestman does not provide substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that delisting the Bone Cave harvestman may be warranted.

Read additional information on the 90-day finding.
Federal Register

Southwest Region Archived News Releases

Search additional archived news releases for the Southwest Region

Wildlife Selfies Trailcam
Southwest Emphasis Areas
Youth and Students
Wildlife Selfies!
The Southwest Region has a brand new interactive webpage; every month new, exciting refuge trailcam photos will be highlighted.  Simply click on the Refuge
Trailcam button and enjoy!  And remember…check back often!
Visit the Southwest Region's Refuge Trailcam site of Wildlife Selfies!
Our Stories
Projects Using State Wildlife Grants
​There are many projects using State Wildlife Grants taking place in the Southwest Region.Learn more...
R2 LE Agent Receives Honor Award
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The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognizes two of our employees
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Science Leadership Award
Grant Harris receives recognition for scientific leadership
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Southwest Region's Wounded Warriors
There are eight Wounded Warriors who have joined our ranks.
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Two New Refuges
Two new refuges in the Southwest Region are the 559th and 560th refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
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Last updated: August 27, 2015