U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Pacific Southwest Highlights

Although not known for large populations of monarchs, the Pacific Northwest is a primary migration route. This monarch is shown in restored habitat, Corvallis, Oregon. Credit: Natural Resources Conservation Service

Monarchs of the West need our help

Western monarchs are not as well-known as their eastern counterparts that migrate all the way to Mexico each year.

The western population of monarchs overwinter along the Pacific Coast, but it’s definitely not the only habitat they need.

We wanted to share some of our favorite photos of these monarch butterflies, and the diversity of habitats (both expected and surprising) they use across the West.

Check our blog on the conditions facing the Western monarch butterfly.

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A fisher peers from a trap box, where it was lured in by a chicken leg the night before. During the last month of the Stirling study, 61 fishers were trapped one last time to remove radio collars and collect final data. Credit: Aaron Facka/Oregon State University

Long-term collaborative study ends successfully as fishers thrive in northern Sierra forests

A sleek, grizzled brown cat-sized fisher is huddled in a wooden box attached to the back of a wire trap in the bottom of a forest drainage. A shiny chicken bone hanging from twine inside is a reminder of how the 2 year-old female was lured inside the night before. Dr. Aaron Facka of Oregon State University approached the trap quietly as others aimed cameras toward the presumed fisher escape path.

Dr. Deana Clifford, senior wildlife veterinarian for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, swiped a handheld wand over the box, listening for a signal. A beeping indicated the fisher had an implanted microchip from a recent capture. Fisher identity confirmed, Facka pulled the rear panel from the box and gently tapped the top. In a blur of fur, the fisher streaked out, feet flying over leaves and limbs, disappearing deep into the forest in mere seconds.

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Tipton kangaroo rat

Biologists are seeing a significant population increase of Tipton kangaroo rat, a subspecies of the San Joaquin kangaroo rat, on Kern National Wildlife Refuge according to surveys conducted in 2016 and 2017. Credit: USFWS

Tipton kangaroo rat: Don’t call it a comeback; we’ve been here for years

In 2016, for the first time in over 20 years, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff saw a significant increase in the number the endangered Tipton kangaroo rats on the Kern National Wildlife Refuge.

Now according to surveys, 2017 was another record year for the tiny endangered species with a total of 55 (trapped), passing the previous year record of 47.

“Kern National Wildlife Refuge has some areas of high-quality habitat for the Tipton kangaroo rat,” said Geoff Grisdale, wildlife biologist at Kern National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “We are happy our management is contributing to the protection of this species.”

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Cody Waller (left) displays his take of ducks with his hunting mentor, local guide Ben Martin. Waller was one of 11 military veterans paired with local guides for a special hunt on Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Jan. 6. Credit: Jon Myatt/USFWS

'Seeing the magic' of hunting on public lands

On any normal morning during waterfowl hunting season on the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, duck hunters arrive at “check stations” nearly three hours before sunrise to register for their hunt sites.

One recent Saturday was not one of those normal hunt days as 11 disabled military veterans arrived with local guides as mentors and refuge staff for a one-of-a-kind special hunt on Colusa National Wildlife Refuge.

The hunt was in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Waterfowl Association, who partnered with local hunters who volunteered as mentors to support the California Waterfowl Veteran Hunt Program.

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A group of fifth graders from National City, California get an exciting chance to see whales on the San Diego Bay. Courtesy photo: Anna Mare/Ocean Connectors

Inspired to change the world

On a warm mid-morning day, city-dwelling sixth graders speckled the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge with binoculars in hand. This wasn’t an average field trip—these students participated in an Ocean Connectors excursion, a partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that began eight years ago.

This organization, founded by executive director Frances Kinney in 2007, inspires urban students to take small actions that have a big impact on wildlife and the refuge.

“You can give them all the science and facts, but if they don’t experience it firsthand, it just won’t matter to them,” said Kinney.

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Aleution cackling geese on the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge fly off to feed in fields nearby. Check out our photo gallery of other iconic birds that frrequent wildlife refuges in California, Nevada and the Klamath Basin.
Credit: Rick Kimble/USFWS

Run out of ideas for winter weekend activities? Look no further than a National Wildlife Refuge

PHOTO GALLERY: National Wildlife Refuges across the Pacific Southwest Region offer endless opportunities for an immersive birding experience.

Along with being some of the most popular hotspots for a rich array of bird species, some refuges even offer accessible viewing facilities and automobile tour routes to take your wildlife viewing to a whole new level. Enjoy this collection of some of the most iconic birds on our refuges with commentary from our refuge staff explaining why these birds are so unique. We hope to inspire you.

And after you've viewed this photo gallery, check out all the refuges in our region and plan your visit.

See the gallery here...

Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, located off I-5, is considered an urban refuge given its proximity to Sacramento. “The refuge location is perfect for supporting migratory birds in the fall and winter," said Bart McDermott, refuge manager.
Credit: Meghan Snow/USFWS

Double duty: Central Valley refuge provides water infrastructure and waterfowl habitat

About 20 minutes south of Sacramento, Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is divided by a freeway and surrounded by farmland. Its location was not one of happenstance, nor was it solely based on the need for habitat for a specific species.

It was a strategic decision made over the course of three decades to help manage flood waters in California’s Central Valley. Just over 6,500 acres in size, Stone Lakes contains three natural, shallow lakes and a series of sloughs that are within the 100-year floodplain of the Sacramento Delta. The refuge is flanked by dairy farms and vineyards to the west and a growing urban community to the east.

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California condor

“I’ve been really lucky,” said Jim Smith, project leader for the Red Bluff Fish and Wildlife Office, reflecting on all of the people and places that have enhanced his time with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Above, Smith is interviewed at the base of the Red Bluff Diversion Dam. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS

‘The fish will always fool you’

While it would seem next to impossible to pack almost 40 years of memories into a half-day tour, Jim Smith, who has been with the Red Bluff Fish and Wildlife Office since 1983, gave it his best shot on a recent warm early fall day.

“I’ve been really lucky,” he said in his typical low-key manner, as he visited a number of his career highlights near his home base, reflecting on all of the people and places that have enhanced his time with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Smith, who used to run marathons until his step slowed with a recent hip injury, sums up his career with a phrase he uses often: “the fish will fool you.”

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Nicholas Rzyska-Filipek, a Summit Lake Paiute Tribe fish biologist, holds a threatened Summit Lake Lahontan cutthroat trout during a monitoring operation recently. Credit: Sean Vogt/USFWS

Summit Lake Paiute Tribe clears spawning path for threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout

Lahontan cutthroat trout, the largest cutthroat trout subspecies in the world, travel nearly 17 miles each year to spawn in only one place, the tributary creeks feeding northwestern Nevada’s Summit Lake. The federally protected fish will now be able to make their journey much easier this spring.

The Service’s National Fish Passage Program and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program teamed up with the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe to replace a 40-year-old culvert that had been hindering spawning runs on Mahogany Creek for the threatened trout species during multiple past drought years.

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Kate Hau and Ben Nelson, visitors at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, north of Eureka, California, discovered a lost marbled murrelet sitting in the middle of the road. Credit: Lynn Roberts/USFWS

Tragedy averted: Lost marbled murrelet found in roadway, returned to the sea by wildlife heroes

The marbled murrelet is often referred to as an elusive seabird and only a few nature enthusiasts have ever seen a fledgling in the wild. Currently only a fraction of the bird’s historic population remain.

Unlike other seabirds, the marbled murrelet spends all of its time at sea and only flies inland to nest in older forests. However, on September 24, a federally threatened juvenile murrelet was discovered on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Humboldt County, California.

In the 24 hours that followed the discovery, individuals and organizations would team-up to rescue, care for, and ultimately release the small bird back into the wild.

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