U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Pacific Southwest Highlights

a purple butterfly on a yellow flower

Female Palos Verdes blue butterfly on deerweed. Credit: Jane Hendron/USFWS

Saving SoCal’s rarest butterflies

Summer is in the air and so are butterflies! Southern California is home to several species of federally endangered butterflies. Two of which — the Palos Verdes blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus palosverdesensis) and Quino checkerspot (Euphydryas editha quino) — are being captive reared and released into the wild to boost recovery.

The Palos Verdes blue, once thought to be extinct, was rediscovered in 1994. This sighting prompted further partnership efforts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College and several other organizations to help bring the species back from the brink.

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an orange and black butterfly on a yellow flower

The Oregon silverspot butterfly, listed federally as threatened since 1980, is only found in four places in the world. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Arcata and Newport offices are working with various partners to include multiple zoos, universities, non-profit organizations, local parks and others in an to attempt to save the species with the hope of eventually taking it off the Endangered Species List. Credit: Christine Damiani/USFWS

Oregon silverspot butterfly – ‘Whittling down’ non-natives crucial to save beautiful and rare species

The Oregon silverspot butterfly is beautiful and rare.

Unfortunately, that beauty and rarity is at risk due to habitat degradation. And while the danger is real, there is a plan to address it led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their partners.

The butterfly, listed federally as threatened since 1980, is only found in four places in the world: North of Lake Earl, California, and the Siuslaw National Forest, Mt. Hebo and Cascade Head, Oregon. Additionally, the butterfly will likely now be found in Saddle Mountain and Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge where they were reintroduced for the first time in the summer of 2018 after being extinct since the 1970s.

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a bee flying next to a purple flower

A bee flying next to a Packard's milk-vetch. Credit: Justin Fulkerson/USFWS

On Tour with... The Marvelous Milk-vetches

To say the past 15 months has been different is an understatement. Throughout these extreme times nature has continued to not only survive, but reduced human presence in some areas helped wildlife expand their habitat use resulting in the appearance of animals in surprising places including Kashmiri sheep wandering the streets of a Welsh town and the return of dolphins to the canals of Venice, Italy.

Mostly, nature simply continued getting on with its daily job of providing ecosystem benefits to all of us - like the Florida Everglades and the Cypress swamps that aerate and return nutrients to flowing water; and the great native grasslands of the Midwest that help mitigate flooding and contribute to soil fertility. Look behind these iconic habitats, however, and there are literally thousands of much smaller, but no less important habitats that support a stunning array of plants and wildlife, each contributing to the overall ecological health of our country.

Across the array of ecosystems, pollinators like the Monarch butterfly, rusty-patched bumblebee and others are crucial to maintaining the health of these natural systems. For example, some species of milk-vetch plants rely on bees, wasps and other insects for reproduction. The loss of these pollinators may have a direct impact on the long-term survival of the plants. Conversely, the harsh environments where some of these milk-vetches grow make them important sources of food for a variety of species.

We welcome you to come along with us on a virtual cross-country drive from New Hampshire to California and places in between to learn more about some of our special milk-vetch species and their habitats.

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a flooded field surrounded by dry grass

A wetland unit that previously had been dry for almost 10-years now, is flooded from using the new pipeline. Credit: USFWS

Water in the Desert – Project to improve water delivery, wetland habitat work recently completed

In an attempt to modernize the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge’s water delivery infrastructure, and combat reduced water inflow, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently completed work on a Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act funded project. Refuge staff submitted the proposal, and it was awarded funding in 2017. Work was just recently completed in 2020.

The goals of the project were to reduce water loss, improve timing of water delivery and allow independent water management for each of the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge wetland units. These goals were achieved by the installation of a three-mile underground pipeline and four lateral water delivery lines. Water conservation practices in an arid environment is a major focus in Pahranagat.

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a bald eagle flying with a bird in its claws

In addition to human disturbance, there are other threats to seabirds. Seen here, a bald eagle carries away a common murre in its talons. Bald eagles are a consistent predator of murres up in Oregon, but per Leisyka Parrott, interpretive specialist for the Bureau of Land Management's Arcata office, it is a new development in Trinidad, California. The most common non-human threat is ravens stealing eggs and harassing the colonies. Credit: Russ Namitz/BLM

Save future generations of seabirds - Seabird Protection Network North Coast Chapter working to protect and restore seabird populations in northern California through local volunteer assistance

The North Coast Chapter of the Seabird Protection Network continues to make a difference in in the future of seabirds. Volunteers are all set this spring and summer in Trinidad, California, to assist with Community Science which includes collecting scientific data that identifies current or potential disturbances to nesting seabirds, including cormorants, murres and gulls.

Using U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funding secured from the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process from two oil spills in Humboldt Bay in 1997 and 1999, the chapter was established in 2016 and this breeding season (April-August) will be the chapters fifth year of monitoring human disturbances such as recreation in areas around seabird nesting habitat.

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a Sierra Nevada red fox walking through a snowy landscape

Three California condors at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of Chris Trent

What to do if the California condor visits your home

For those who live in ‘Condor Country,’ this one’s for you!

You may have recently seen images on Twitter of about 20 endangered California condors “having a party” at a residential home near Tehachapi in Southern California. While this is a remarkable sighting, this behavior can be problematic if not quickly discouraged.

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a Sierra Nevada red fox walking through a snowy landscape

Recently proposed to be listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the southern population of the Sierra Nevada red fox is estimated to consist of fewer than 50 individuals. Credit: National Park Service

What does the fox (poop) say? - DNA found in scat helps scientists learn about secretive fox

There’s an elusive fox roaming the southern Sierra Nevada, and experts are trying to learn more about its behavior and breeding success by analyzing one of the few traces of its presence — poop.

Living in areas above 9,000 feet in elevation, the fox is smaller than most, has fuzzy paws, and a thick fur coat–all adaptations to help it survive the heavy winter snows and challenging alpine conditions. Its fur can range in color from red to black to grayish-brown.

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a bighorn sheep head eating from a bush

Threatened peninsular bighorn sheep at Anza Borrego Desert State Park in California. Credit: Mark Catalano/USFWS

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces Recovery Champions in California

On Endangered Species Day, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service celebrated the contributions and achievements of our nationally recognized Recovery Champions. These individuals and groups have devoted themselves to recovering endangered and threatened animals and plants.

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a brush fire with snow capped mountains in the background

Prescribed fire at Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Ruby Valley, Nevada. Credit: USFWS

Using prescribed fire to improve habitat and save wildlife

Much like a doctor uses medication to treat an ailment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service often prescribes fire to increase the overall health of the land and to protect communities from catastrophic wildfire.

For the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, prescribed fire is the planned application of low to moderate intensity burns onto the landscape by fire and fuel specialists to meet land management objectives.

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a man in a boat on a river holds a hook with a dead salmon on it.

Salamander surveys enable the Service to work with partners to conserve and protect these sensitive amphibians from threats that could put them at risk. Pictured here is one of the three species of Shasta salamander found only around Shasta Lake in California. Credit: USFWS

Salamander sleuthing - Turning over rocks helps conservation efforts of secretive species

On a chilly, rainy day in Northern California, a 3-inch-long web-footed salamander crawls out of a rock crevice, its sticky toes clinging to an outcrop on a forested slope. While most cold-blooded animals are dormant in cooler weather, several species of salamanders are the exception to this amphibian ‘rule’ and actually require these conditions to become active above ground.

Ranging from Shasta Lake to the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains of northern California and southern Oregon, the Shasta, Siskiyou Mountains and Scott Bar salamanders live similar lifestyles. All of these salamanders are lungless, needing moist conditions to breathe through their skin. They spend both cold winters and hot, dry summers hiding under logs, deep within rock crevices, or inside limestone or other rocky caves. They only become active above ground most often at night during short periods in the late fall and spring, and during the winter when temperatures are above freezing, and humidity is high.

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photo illustration with a map showing the bighorn sheep numbers in 1850 with two bighorn sheep on the right.

Bighorn sheep once roamed the American West by the millions, by the 20th century their numbers were reduced to just a few thousand individuals and were even completely extirpated in several states. Photo illustration: USFWS

Decades of wildlife restoration funding help recover Nevada’s bighorn sheep

Since the 1960s, biologists in the U.S. and Canada have undertaken an ambitious effort to recover bighorn sheep – a species that nearly vanished across western landscapes due to disease transmission from domestic sheep, degraded habitat, unregulated hunting and human disturbances.

The recovery effort in Nevada has been funded by many sources, including donations from sportsmen’s organizations that leverage a substantial amount of federal dollars provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

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 bee on a pink Kenwood Marsh checkermallow flower

Kenwood Marsh checkermallow. Credit: Kate Symonds/USFWS

8 listed flowers that light up the landscape

We’ve all heard the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” but at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we like to say, “listed flowers are the prettiest.” Here’s a few threatened and endangered flowers in California and Nevada that we think prove our point.

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