Secretary Sally Jewell adresses the USFWS Southwest Region All Employee Meeting. Photo credit: Lisa Whittle, USFWS.
Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Visits the Southwest Region
Secretary Sally Jewell visits Valle de Oro NWR, the Region's first Urban Refuge. Photo credit: USFWS.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) staff during her trip to Albuquerque on April 17. She addressed issues of interest for the Region and fielded questions from the employees. The Secretary arrived at the Regional Office shortly after she gave the commencement speech at the Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute. Following the meeting, Secretary Jewell visited the Valle de Oro National Urban Wildlife Refuge with FWS staff. Left to right in the group photo: Aaron Archibeque, Chief, Southwest Region Refuge System; Joy Nicholopoulos, Deputy Regional Director, Southwest Region; DOI Secretary Sally Jewell; Jennifer Owen White, Valle de Oro Refuge Manager; Jose Viramontes, Chief, Refuge Planning; and Tom Harvey, Refuge Supervisor for Arizona and New Mexico.
Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, assisted with the release of a Golden Eagle that was rehabilitated by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. The Iowa Tribe's Grey Snow Eagle House is their premier eagle aviary and provides homes for both releasable and non-releasable birds.
The Tribe has successfully rehabilitated eight Eagles and released them back into the wild since the opening of their aviary in 2006. Dr. Tuggle attended the release with Gary Siftar, an eagle rehabilitator, Mr. Ron Curry, the Regional Administrator for EPA, and Victor Roubidoux, the Iowa Tribe's Wildlife Manager.
Benjamin Tuggle (left), the Service's Southwest Regional Director, consults on the dispersion map with Coast Guard Captain Randal O'Grydziak, the Unified Incident Commander, during a visit to the Port O'Connor (TX) Incident Command Center. Photo credit: Nancy Brown, USFWS.
Service’s Southwest Region Responds to the Texas City Y Oil Spill
April 2014 On March 22, 2014, a bulk carrier moving through the Houston (TX) ship channel collided with a barge carrying oil, which resulted in approximately 168,000 gallons of marine fuel oil being released into Galveston Bay and dispersing into the Gulf of Mexico. The Service’s Southwest Region immediately mobilized to support to the U.S. Coast Guard and other participating agencies through the Unified Incident Command. The spill – named the Texas City Y Spill based on the fact that the spill site is near the intersection of three major waterways – comes just as migratory shorebird season approaches.
Galveston Oil Spill Wildlife ImpactsVideo. Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife
American Burying Beetle. Photo credit: USFS.
Service Proposes Industry Conservation Plan for the American Burying Beetle Service and Industry Work Together to Address Beetle Conservation and the ESA Permitting Process
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the availability of a plan to streamline the Endangered Species Act (Act) permitting process for oil and gas activities that may impact the American burying beetle (ABB) in Oklahoma. The public, industry and scientific community are encouraged to review and comment on the proposed Industry Conservation Plan (ICP) for the American burying beetle, as well as the draft environmental assessment (dEA) during the 14-day public comment period.
The proposed ICP would cover take of the ABB that is incidental to activities associated with oil and gas exploration and the construction, operation, maintenance, repair and decommissioning of oil and gas pipelines and related well fields. If approved, the ICP would provide oil and gas operators the ability to proceed with projects in covered counties while conserving the American burying beetle and its habitat.
During the public comment period, the Service is requesting public comments on the proposed ICP and dEA. To ensure consideration, we must receive written comments on or before close of business on April 30, 2014. You may obtain copies of the proposed ICP and dEA online at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/Oklahoma/ABBICP.htm.
"It was a great honor for me to accept the Pollinator Challenge award from Director Dan Ashe (on the right) for Region 2's third straight challenge win. Photo credit: USFWS.
Southwest Region “Three-Peat” – Southwest Region Wins National Pollinator Challenge Again
April 2014 For the third year in a row, the Southwest Region has won the Service's National Pollinator Challenge, capturing the highest scores for pollinator conservation activities nationwide. This was truly a cross-program effort in which employees from 17 National Wildlife Refuges; 4 Ecological Services Field Offices with 3 of their Partners programs; 1 Migratory Bird Field Office; and the Southwest Regional Office – represented by Refuges, Fisheries, Ecological Services, Migratory Birds, and the Wildlife Sport Fish Restoration
USFWS Pollinator Awards presented to the Southwest Region (from left to right, 2012, 2011 and 2013). Photo credit: Chris Tincher, USFWS.
Program worked together as “One Service/One Region.”
The 2014 Pollinator Challenge begins today (April 15) and runs through Sept 30, 2014. Let's bring this award home to the Southwest Region for a fourth year!
Graphic displaying Bald Eagle feathers. Credit: USFWS National Forensics Laboratory.
Internet Posting Leads To Successful Recovery of Protected Eagle Feathers
April 2014 A resident of Edgewood, New Mexico has been charged with violating federal wildlife laws that prohibit the selling of, and offering to sell, eagle feathers in a criminal complaint filed in federal court. The complaint alleges violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Lacey Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in March 2014, in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. The investigation was initiated on March 7, 2014, after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received information regarding an Internet website posting of Indian arts and crafts, which appeared to include federally protected feathers. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers and was investigated by the Office of Law Enforcement of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with assistance from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, Homeland Security Investigations, the U. S. Marshals Service, and the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office.
A wide variety of feathers are important in Native American cultural and religious practices. Left to Right: Woodpecker feathers on rattle, American kestrel tail fan, Red-tailed hawk fan, Anhinga tail fan with macaw feather, Scissor-tailed flycatcher fan, Red-shafted flicker tail fan. Photo credit :USFWS.
Non-eagle Feather Repositories Receive Grants from Fish & Wildlife Service
Two non-eagle feather repositories established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Service) Southwest Region have been awarded Service migratory bird program grants to assist in providing legally obtained bird feathers and parts for Native American cultural, ceremonial and religious needs.
Hoodoo pack Mexican wolf released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area of Arizona on April 2, 2014. Photo credit: Credit: George Andrejko, Ariz. Game & Fish Dept.
Mexican Wolf Releases into Apache National Forest
April 2014 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department released a pair of Mexican wolves Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area of Arizona. The new pair is the hopeful start of the “Hoodoo pack.” A second pair is slated for release next week. Each pair contain a genetically valuable female from the captive population and a wild-savvy male collected from the field in January.
Service Reopens Comment Period on Proposal to Protect Red Knot Under Endangered Species Act Shorebird flies up to 18,600 miles a year on 20-inch wingspan
April 2014 The rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa), a robin-sized shorebird that visits the U.S. on its annual journey between the tips of the Americas, is in trouble.
The knot’s population has declined by about 75 percent in some areas since the 1980s. Changing climate conditions are already affecting the bird’s food supply, the timing of its migration and its breeding habitat in the Arctic. The shorebird also is losing habitat along its range due to sea level rise, shoreline projects and development.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period on its proposal to list the knot at threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service proposed to list the knot on September 30, 2013, following an analysis of the best available data in more than 1,400 scientific documents. The public can provide comments on the proposed rule for 45 days through May 19, 2014.
An information session and public hearing will be held in Corpus Christi, Texas, on May 6, 2014. The information session and public hearing will be held at the Harte Research Institute, Conference Room 127, 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412. The information session is scheduled from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and the public hearing is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Lesser Prairie-Chicken as Threatened Species and Finalizes Special Rule Endorsing Landmark State Conservation Plan Special Rule Establishes Unprecedented Conservation Partnership with States to Provide Regulatory Certainty for Landowners and Businesses; Enables States to Maintain Lead Management for Conservation Efforts
March 2014 In response to the rapid and severe decline of the lesser prairie-chicken, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the final listing of the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as a final special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that will limit regulatory impacts on landowners and businesses from this listing. Under the law, a “threatened” listing means the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future; it is a step below “endangered” under the ESA and allows for more flexibility in how the Act’s protections are implemented.
The final rule to list the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened and the final special rule will publish in the Federal Register and will be effective 30 days after publication.
An 11-member Coexistence Council has developed an innovative plan to reduce conflicts between Mexican gray wolves and cattle. Coexistence Council logo (Coexistence Council published and has provided use permission).
Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council Unveils Innovative Strategic Plan
An 11-member volunteer group of livestock producers, tribes, environmental groups, and county coalitions has developed an innovative Strategic Mexican Wolf Coexistence Plan to reduce wolf/livestock conflicts, and decrease the need for management removals of depredating or nuisancewolves. The goals of the Plan are to sustain viable ranching, protect healthy western landscapes, and advance a wild, self-sustaining Mexican gray wolf population. The Plan is comprised of three core strategies: payments for wolf presence, funding for conflict avoidance measures, and funding for depredation compensation.
March 2014 Texas Coast – A partnership of researchers from multiple agencies and organizations, including representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, Crane Trust, Parks Canada, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, and the International Crane Foundation, conducted a study of whooping cranes using lightweight GPS devices. With these devices, researchers are able to track individual whooping cranes of the Aransas –Wood Buffalo population, the only naturally wild flock of whooping cranes in existence.
March 2014 Texas Coast - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2013-2014 Winter Whooping Crane Survey for the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population estimates there are 304 whooping cranes in the primary survey area. This includes an estimated 39 juveniles. A continued upward trend in whooping crane numbers over the last three years was observed, and is consistent with the long-term growth trend.
Service Announces Scoping for Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Barton Springs and Austin Blind Salamanders
March 2014 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces a public scoping period associated with development of an Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding the proposed Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (District) draft Habitat Conservation Plan (dHCP) for the Barton Springs and Austin blind salamanders. The District is preparing a draft Habitat Conservation Plan that will address the take of the two salamanders associated with the management and use of the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer in Central Texas.
A 30 day public scoping period was initiated by publication of the notice in the Federal Register on March 05, 2014. Comments may be provided at:www.regulations.gov and must be received by close of business on April 04, 2014.
A public scoping meeting will be held in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, at the BSEACD Offices, 1124 Regal Row, Austin, Texas 78748, on Thursday, April 3, 2014, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The primary purpose of this meeting and public comment period is to solicit suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives to consider when drafting the EA.
Service Designates Jaguar Critical Habitat in Arizona and New Mexico
March 2014 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the final designation of approximately 764, 207 acres of critical habitat for the jaguar (Panthera onca) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This habitat is found within Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties in Arizona, and Hidalgo County in New Mexico. The final rule takes effect on April 4, 2014.
The final rule reflects the following changes from the July 1, 2013, critical habitat proposal: Exclusion of Tohono O’odham Nation lands (78,067 acres) as a result of the Tribe’s efforts—working in partnership with the Service—to conserve jaguar and other listed species' habitat on the Nation's sovereign land. Exemption of Fort Huachuca lands (15,867 acres) due to the conservation benefits to the jaguar provided in Fort Huachuca’s approved Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan.
Service Announces Availability of Draft Economic Analysis for Sharpnose and Smalleye Shiners
March 2014 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the Notice of Availability of the draft economic analysis for the proposed critical habitat for the sharpnose and smalleye shiners. The draft economic analysis provides estimated costs of the foreseeable potential economic impacts resulting from the proposed critical habitat designation for the two shiner species.
In releasing the draft economic analysis, the Service is also reopening the comment period for 30 days to allow the public an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the August 6, 2013, proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the sharpnose and smalleye shiners, and the associated draft economic analysis. The Service will accept public comments received or postmarked on or before April 3, 2014.
Ecological Services Division of Environmental Review Completes Another NRDAR Habitat Restoration Project - Congratulations!
The restoration action for the Brio Refining/Dixie Oil Processors joint Natural Resource and Damage Assessment case has been completed, including monitoring for success criteria. The Texas Natural Resource Trustees, including the Service, worked cooperatively with the responsible parties, negotiated a settlement to restore trust resources injured as a result of hazardous materials being released from both sites. The project created 6 acres of riparian freshwater wetland, and preserved 102 acres of bottomland hardwood forest, and 19 acres of pasture will act as a buffer between the forest, the adjacent marsh, and the nearest development. The restoration project, which is protected in perpetuity will improve water quality in the Mud Gully and Clear Creek watershed, and provide valuable habitat for migratory birds.
Georgetown salamander from water tank cave. Photo credit: Nathan Bendik.
Service Announces Listing of Georgetown and Salado Salamanders as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act Recognizing County and City Efforts to Protect Water Quality,Agency Proposes Special Rule to Allow Limited Take of the Georgetown Salamander
February 2014 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it is listing the Georgetown and Salado salamanders, two small amphibians found in springs and caves around the Edwards Aquifer in central Texas, as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, due to degradation of their habitat and changes in water flow and quality.
At the same time, the Service is proposing a special rule for the Georgetown salamander that would allow development activities to continue if they are in compliance with ordinances adopted in December by Williamson County and the City of Georgetown to protect water quality. These ordinances include steps to reduce contamination from spills and establishment of buffer zones around the species’ habitat.
The final rule for the Georgetown and Salado salamanders will publish in the Federal Register on February 24, 2014, and will become effective 30 days after publication. A 60-day public comment period on the proposed special rule will begin with its publication in the Federal Register on February 24, 2014.
Copies of the final rule and information on the proposed special rule for the Georgetown salamander may be found at the Service’s website at www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/. Public comments on the proposed special rule for the Georgetown salamander must be submitted no later than April 25, 2014.
Service Reopens Comment Period on Proposal to Remove the Gray Wolf from the Endangered Species List
February 2014 Following receipt of an independent scientific peer review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the comment period on its proposal to list the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies and remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. The Service is making that report available for public review, and, beginning Monday February 10, stakeholders will have an additional 45 days to provide information that may be helpful in making a final determination on the proposal. (This is for the listing/delisting proposal only – not the proposed revision of the Mexican wolf experimental population rule.)
Service Announces a 6-Month Extension of the Proposal to List the Zuni Bluehead Sucker as an Endangered Species
January 2014 In order to conserve the Zuni bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus yarrowi), whose distribution rangewide has been reduced dramatically in the last 20 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to list the Zuni bluehead sucker as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act on January 25, 2013. Now the Service is extending the deadline for a final decision concerning the listing of the Zuni bluehead sucker because there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the data the Service has available to make the decision. Therefore, the Service is reopening the comment period for 30 days to solicit additional information.
Service Announces Availability of the Final Recovery Plan for the Gulf Coast Jaguarundi
January 2014 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the availability of the final recovery plan for the Gulf Coast jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi cacomitli). This plan updates current biological knowledge and includes recovery criteria, threats analysis, actions needed for recovery, and existing information regarding the Gulf Coast jaguarundi. The Gulf Coast jaguarundi was listed as an endangered species in 1976. The draft plan was published in the Federal Register on December 26, 2012 and a 60 day public comment period followed. After considering the comments received the Service has now published the final plan in the Federal Register.
Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge hosts some of the largest bald eagle populations in the State of Oklahoma. Image taken from Eagle camera during previous nesting season. Photo credit: USFWS.
Join an Eagle Watch Tour in Oklahoma
January 2014 (Vian, Okla) The 2014 annual eagle watch tours are set to begin in January on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge. Join one of the tours and be a part of witnessing eagles soaring through the air, hunting for food, and other activity at a number of bald eagle nests. No cost to participate. Tours take place on the following Saturdays; January 18, 25, February 1, 8, 15, 22, and March 1 for the 2014 season.
Service Announces Proposed Amendment to the Oklahoma Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the Notice of Availability (NOA) for a proposed amendment to the Oklahoma Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) for the lesser prairie-chicken. Public comments will be accepted on the proposed amendment through January 21, 2014.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) has applied for an amendment to their existing CCAA, to increase enrollment from 200,000 acres to 400,000 acres by 2037 throughout the 14 Oklahoma Counties covered by the CCAA.
Summer Jobs at Trinity River NWR Liberty, Texas - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, through the Youth Conservation Corps program, is seeking applications from young men and women age 15 to 18 for two summer positions. Learn more...
The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognizes two of our employees Learn more...
Science Leadership Award
Grant Harris receives recognition for scientific leadership Learn more...
Southwest Region's Wounded Warriors There are eight Wounded Warriors who have joined our ranks Learn more...
Two New Refuges Two new refuges in the Southwest Region are the 559th and 560th refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Learn more...