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Wetlands at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Washington. Credit: Ian Shive/USFWS-TV
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Celebrating One of America’s Most important Natural Resources

May 19, 2021

Wetlands provide essential habitat for fish, plants, and wildlife, including billions of migratory birds and almost half of all species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Wetlands not only provide clean drinking water, countless recreational, and cultural activities but also protect communities against flooding, rising sea levels, and other natural hazards. For 30 years, May has been dedicated to celebrating one of the nation’s most important natural resources.

Principal Deputy Director’s Blog »»

American Wetlands Month Website »»

Wetlands at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Washington. Credit: Ian Shive/USFWS-TV
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Species like the golden-winged warbler will benefit from conservation projects funded by the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. Credit: Caleb Putnam/Creative Commons
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More than $27 Million Announced to Fund the Protection of Migratory Birds Throughout the Americas

May 18, 2021

Twenty-one years ago, the passage of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act spurred new opportunities for innovation in bird conservation that continues today. This year, birds and people throughout the Americas will benefit from a new round of projects under the act, totaling more than $27 million in federal grants and matching funds.

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Species like the golden-winged warbler will benefit from conservation projects funded by the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. Credit: Caleb Putnam/Creative Commons
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A female bighorn sheep watches hikers pass by from Point of Rocks on Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, west of Las Vegas. Credit: Karen Dorn/USFWS
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Decades of Wildlife Restoration Funding Help Recover Nevada’s Bighorn Sheep

May 13, 2021

Since the 1960s, biologists in the United States and Canada have worked to recover bighorn sheep, which nearly vanished across western landscapes due to degraded habitat, unregulated hunting, human disturbances, and disease transmission from domestic sheep. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program, which provides funds from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to states, has played a large role in the recovery effort in Nevada, which boasts a population of over 11,000 bighorn sheep, up from just 2,000 when recovery and management efforts began.

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A female bighorn sheep watches hikers pass by from Point of Rocks on Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, west of Las Vegas. Credit: Karen Dorn/USFWS
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The white-crowned sparrow is one of the more than 1,000 migratory birds protected under the MBTA. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Interior Department Takes Steps to Revoke Final Rule on Migratory Bird Treaty Act Incidental Take

May 6, 2021

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposed rule to revoke the January 7, 2021, final regulation that limited the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Significant concerns about the interpretation of the MBTA have been raised by the public, legal challenges in court and from the international treaty partners. The MBTA is a bedrock environmental law that is critical to protecting migratory birds and restoring declining bird populations. A 30-day comment period will be open beginning May 7 through June 7, 2021.

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The white-crowned sparrow is one of the more than 1,000 migratory birds protected under the MBTA. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Fishing at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Sean Benninger/USFWS
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Service Promotes Public Access to Hunting and Fishing in Largest Expansion of Opportunities to Date

May 4, 2021

Continuing the Department of the Interior’s efforts to increase recreational access on public lands, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today a proposal for new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities for game species across 2.1 million acres at 90 national wildlife refuges and on the lands of one national fish hatchery.

News Release »»

Fishing at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Sean Benninger/USFWS
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A male Attwater’s prairie-chicken. Credit: John Magera/USFWS
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Texas’ Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken Wild Population Highest Since 1993

April 29, 2021

After decades of protection and conservation efforts, Texas’ critically endangered Attwater’s prairie-chicken population is at its highest since 1993. Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy in Texas estimate the current population is at least 178 birds. During the 2021 spring count, a total of 89 males were spotted performing breeding displays known as “booming” at the Service’s Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge and on private ranch lands.

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A Remarkable Return »»

A male Attwater’s prairie-chicken. Credit: John Magera/USFWS
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Yangtze Sturgeon Illustration Credit: Josephe Huët / Nouvelles Archives du Muséum d'histoire Naturelle
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Yangtze Sturgeon Receives Endangered Species Act Protection

April 26, 2021

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Yangtze sturgeon, a freshwater fish found within the upper and middle Yangtze River system in China, warrants listing as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Threats to the fish are principally the presence of dams and partly bycatch. The species is also negatively impacted by industrial pollution, riverbed modification and hybridization with non-native sturgeon.

News Release »»

Yangtze Sturgeon Illustration Credit: Josephe Huët / Nouvelles Archives du Muséum d'histoire Naturelle
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When the dwarf-flowered heartleaf was protected in 1989, there were only 24 known populations. Today, there are at least 119 populations. Credit: USFWS
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Collaboration Spurs Recovery of Carolina Plant, Proposed Removal From Endangered Species List

April 23, 2021

Partnerships across the Carolinas have led to the latest Endangered Species Act success story: the recovery of the dwarf-flowered heartleaf. Because of its comeback, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the plant from the endangered species list.

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When the dwarf-flowered heartleaf was protected in 1989, there were only 24 known populations. Today, there are at least 119 populations. Credit: USFWS
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Migratory bird species like the pintail will benefit from wetland conservation projects funded by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Secretary Haaland Announces Nearly $80 Million in Funding for Wetland Conservation Projects and National Wildlife Refuges

April 21, 2021

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, approved $78 million in grants, which will provide the Service and its partners the ability to help conserve or restore nearly 500,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds across North America – including Canada and Mexico. The grants, made through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, will be matched by nearly $125 million in partner funds. The Commission also approved $1.8 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve waterfowl habitat on national wildlife refuges in three states.

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Migratory bird species like the pintail will benefit from wetland conservation projects funded by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS
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A fork of the Dog Salmon River winds through the lush green mountains of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS
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Celebrating Earth Day

April 21, 2021

As Martha Williams, the Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, writes: “Conservation is a shared responsibility. We each have different roles, but it requires a collective effort by all of us.” This Earth Day, April 22, find ways you can make a better planet for fish, wildlife, their habitats and people.

Martha Williams Blog »»

More Earth Day »»

A fork of the Dog Salmon River winds through the lush green mountains of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS
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Service Regional Historic Preservation Officer Amy Wood. "Once you come for the history you’ll end up learning more about conservation." Credit: Library of Congress
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Partners Discover Site of Home of Harriet Tubman’s Father on National Wildlife Refuge

April 20, 2021

Land acquired last year to help Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland withstand rising seas contains the location of the home of Harriet Tubman’s father. Archaeologists confirmed the news after finding artifacts dating back to the 1800s. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes its role in preserving and sharing history seriously and wishes to thank the state and federal partners who helped unearth this discovery.

News Release (Maryland DOT) »»

FWS Blog: How Conservation Helps Fill in the Gaps of History »»

Photos and Videos from Maryland DOT »»

Service Regional Historic Preservation Officer Amy Wood. "Once you come for the history you’ll end up learning more about conservation." Credit: Library of Congress
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The winning 2021 Junior Duck Stamp art, an acrylic painting of a pair of hooded mergansers by Margaret McMullen. Credit: © USFWS
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Kansas Youth Wins 2021 National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest

April 19, 2021

Margaret McMullen, an 18-year-old from Kansas, took top honors in the Service’s National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest with an acrylic painting of a pair of hooded mergansers. Her artwork will grace the 2021-2022 Junior Duck Stamp, which will go on sale June 25 and supports conservation education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

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The winning 2021 Junior Duck Stamp art, an acrylic painting of a pair of hooded mergansers by Margaret McMullen. Credit: © USFWS
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Whooping cranes lay two eggs, usually rearing only one chick during the breeding season. Credit: Courtesy of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
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Comeback Trail: Whooping Cranes Nesting in Texas

April 16, 2021

For the first time in recent history, two pairs of endangered whooping cranes have been found nesting in Texas. The whooping cranes, part of a non-migratory population introduced in Louisiana, are currently found on private land in Jefferson and Chambers counties. Whooping cranes are one of the rarest birds in North America.

News Release »»

Whooping cranes lay two eggs, usually rearing only one chick during the breeding season. Credit: Courtesy of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
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Sandpipers fly over Kachemak Bay in Homer, Alaska, site of a May festival co-hosted by Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Carla Stanley/USFWS
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Bird Festivals Are Back!

April 13, 2021

Many bird celebrations at or near national wildlife refuges are set to go again in 2021, after a year of widespread cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure visitor safety, some festivals will be all-virtual, some will be on site, and others will be a mix. In-person events fill up fast, especially with attendance limits, so consider registering ahead if you go. Be safe, wear a mask, and avoid crowding. Some festivals charge a registration or activity fee.

2021 Bird Festival Planner »»

National Wildlife Refuges: Birdiest Places on Earth »»

Find a Refuge Near You »»

Sandpipers fly over Kachemak Bay in Homer, Alaska, site of a May festival co-hosted by Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Carla Stanley/USFWS
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Brian Hamlin, a forensics scientist at the Service’s Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, uses a drill to extract DNA samples from a set of antlers from a bull elk that was killed in Crater Lake National Park. Credit: Kathy Spengler/USFWS
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Teamwork Brings Down Serial Poacher

April 8, 2021

To catch a serial poacher at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, it was going to take teamwork and dedication. Finally, after years of persistence and top-flight forensics work, the team used the evidence to develop the portrait of a poacher who was killing deer and elk within the park. With that evidence, the U.S. Department of Justice was able to secure a guilty plea to a Lacey Act violation for illegally poaching a trophy bull elk from the park.

Portrait of a Poacher »»

Brian Hamlin, a forensics scientist at the Service’s Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, uses a drill to extract DNA samples from a set of antlers from a bull elk that was killed in Crater Lake National Park. Credit: Kathy Spengler/USFWS
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