The refuge is closed to the public.

This refuge exists to protect endangered species habitat.

Ozark Cavefish National Wildlife Refuge is managed by Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. For more information on the refuge call 573-222-3589.

Location and Contact Information

      Our Species

      Ozark Cavefish

      The Ozark cavefish was listed as a federally threatened species in 1984. It is a small, 2-1/4 inch long, blind, pinkish-white fish that lives in caves, sinkholes and underground springs that are untouched by light in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Due to the dark environment, sight is unnecessary and the cavefish has no eyes. It senses motion given off by organisms in the water to locate food such as plankton, isopods, amphipods, crayfish, salamander larvae and bat guano. Some threats to the Ozark cavefish include water pollution, declining bat populations (as the cavefish feeds on guano), specimen collection, cave disturbance and destruction and changing water tables.

      Early settlers often found Ozark cavefish swimming in their buckets as they drew water from their wells. They called the fish "spring keepers" or "well keepers," as a sign that the water was safe to drink.