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National Wildlife Refuge

1 Wildlife Circle
Austwell, TX   77950
E-mail: Laura_Bonneau@fws.gov
Phone Number: 361-286-3559
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Aransas NWR is the wintering location for the last migrating population of whooping cranes.
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Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
The bugle of an endangered whooping crane echoes across the far reaches of the marsh. Only at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge do North America's tallest birds find an enduring winter stronghold. Here, too, pelicans, herons, egrets, roseate spoonbills, ducks, and geese dine in brackish waters and salt marshes teeming with fish, blue crabs, and clams. On shore, javelinas, bobcats, and deer wander oak woodlands. Alligators peer from still waters of ponds and sloughs. Ringed by tidal marshes and broken by long, narrow sloughs, this 59,000-acres refuge sprawls mostly across the Blackjack penisula, where grasslands, live oaks, and redbay thickets cover deep sandy soils. Storms and waters of the Gulf of Mexico constantly reshape this vital refuge, home to over 400 different bird species.

Getting There . . .
From the south, follow Hwy. 35N to the FM 774 exit. Turn right on FM 774 and go approx. 6 miles, winding through the farm fields. Turn right again on FM 2040. Go another 6 miles to the Refuge gate. Go to the Visitor Center to register.

From the north, travel south on Hwy. 35 to Tivoli. Continue past Tivoli for approx. 1 mile to the FM 239 exit (on your left). Follow FM 239 to Austwell. Upon entering Austwell, FM 239 turns into FM 774 at the curve. Continue on FM 774. Follow 774 & take a right at the stop sign. Go down the end of the street. Take a right again. As you exit Austwell, drive ½ mile to the FM 2040 intersection. Go left on FM 2040 for about 6 miles to the Refuge gate. Go to the Visitor Center to register.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Strong winds push the bay waters over low-lying brackish tidal marshes among the short, salt-tolerant vegetation. It is this habitat that attracts thousands of migratory birds.

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The name Aransas is centuries old, and can be found in the Spanish chronicles of the 1700s. The Refuge shares its name with the historic locations of Aransas Harbor and Aransas Pass. The area was within the heartland of the Karankawa Indians, a widely scattered population of nomadic people who fished, hunted, and gathered every available food resource that the region had to offer. Their middens of discarded shell fish and their campsites dot the landscape, but there were no permanent settlements here.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
The refuge protects the grassland meadows from invading scrub species through controlled or prescribed burning. Fire is used as a management tool to rid areas of invasive species and rejuvenate grasslands, benefitting native species of wildlife.