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Stories from the Home Page

A rare hairy rattleweed plant. Credit: Daniel Chapman/USFWS
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Learning to Love a Hairy Rattleweed

February 21, 2020

It sounds like the name of a punk rocker. It lurks under power lines, along roadsides and between rows of commercial pine trees. It's covered in tiny, cobwebby hairs. It's got a shape only a botanist could love. Pity the endangered hairy rattleweed, one of the nation's rarest plants. But a consortium of government and nonprofit agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announced recently that a 1,666-acre tract of timber company pinelands in rural Wayne and Brantley counties had been bought and preserved. More than 3,000 rattleweeds survive on a former Rayonier pine plantation alongside longleaf pines, saw palmettos and gallberry bushes.

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A rare hairy rattleweed plant. Credit: Daniel Chapman/USFWS
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Misty Marsh. Credit: Lamar Gore/USFWS
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Why I Took These Shots

February 13, 2020

National wildlife refuges are great places for nature photography – for visitors and employees. Manager Lamar Gore makes a point of taking photos at Pennsylvania’s John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. Of this photo, he says: “Lighting makes or breaks a photo. In this scene, the sun is casting perfect beams and shadows in the light fog and on the waterfowl. I'm always looking for the perfect lighting conditions when my camera is in hand.” See more of his favorite photos and why he took them in our story.

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Misty Marsh. Credit: Lamar Gore/USFWS
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Family fishing event. Credit: Larry Jernigan/USFWS
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Service Seeks Public Input to Increase Access to Refuge System Lands

February 10, 2020

The Service is seeking the public's assistance to develop a list of its managed lands that would benefit from new or increased recreational access routes. The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed into law March 12, 2019, directs federal land management agencies to develop a priority list of lands that have no or significantly restricted public access that could be improved. The public can identify national wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries and other lands managed by the Service that meet the complete criteria.

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Family fishing event. Credit: Larry Jernigan/USFWS
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Access to recreational opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges is a focus of the FY 2021 Budget proposal. Credit: Robert Pos/USFWS
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President Requests $1.4 Billion for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in FY 2021

February 10, 2020

A $1.4 billion FY 2021 Budget request "will help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue to strengthen our commitment to better serving the American people by expanding access to our Refuge lands for hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, focusing on recovering the nation's most imperiled species, especially working with private landowners, continuing to work collaboratively with states and tribes to meet our trust obligations," says Service Director Aurelia Skipwith.

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Access to recreational opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges is a focus of the FY 2021 Budget proposal. Credit: Robert Pos/USFWS
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Golden-cheeked warbler. Credit: Steve Maslowski / USFWS
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Service Solicits Public Input on Proposed Rule and Environmental Impact Statement for Migratory Bird Treaty Act

January 30, 2020

The Service is proposing a rule that defines the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to provide regulatory certainty to the public, industries, states, tribes and other stakeholders. In addition, the Service has determined that a combined Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act is the most efficient and comprehensive approach for considering the impacts of this action on the environment. Both will be available for public comment for 45 days beginning February 3, 2020.

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Proposed Rule »»

Notice of Intent »»

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Golden-cheeked warbler. Credit: Steve Maslowski / USFWS
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Agents excavated five tiger carcasses that were illegally taken by the defendant. Credit: USFWS
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'Joe Exotic' Sentenced to 22 Years for Murder-For-Hire, Wildlife Violations

January 27, 2020

U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Downing credited "countless hours of detailed investigative work by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service" and FBI for a strong sentence last week against the man known as "Joe Exotic." He was sentenced to 22 years in prison after a federal jury convicted him of two counts of murder-for-hire, eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.

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Agents excavated five tiger carcasses that were illegally taken by the defendant. Credit: USFWS
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Service Employees Work with Partners to Combat Fire at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Blaine Inglis/USFWS
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Service Employees Fight Wildfires at Home and Abroad

January 24, 2020

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fire management professionals work tirelessly to rapidly extinguish wildfires throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System. In 2019, Service staff committed over 155,000 hours to wildland fire response and all-hazard risk management, treating 183,000 acres for hazardous fuels reduction through prescribed fire and mechanical treatments. The Service also continues to support ongoing efforts to combat the catastrophic wildfires in Australia. Since December, seven Service firefighters have deployed along with more than 140 from other Department of the Interior bureaus and the U.S. Forest Service.

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Service Employees Work with Partners to Combat Fire at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Blaine Inglis/USFWS
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Invasive Chinese Mitten Crabs. Credit: USFWS
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Service Wildlife Inspectors Crack Down on the Illegal Mitten Crab Trade

January 24, 2020

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife inspectors have prevented the illegal and potentially harmful import of approximately 15,000 live Chinese mitten crabs as part of a law enforcement operation codenamed Hidden Mitten. Chinese mitten crabs are one of North America's most invasive species and pose a serious threat to humans and the environment. Recent studies estimate that the economic cost of combating invasive species in the United States is approximately $120 billion per year.

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Invasive Chinese Mitten Crabs. Credit: USFWS
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This 2019-20 Duck Stamp featuring a wood duck and decoy illustrates one type of hunting-related element that artists may incorporate into future stamp designs. Credit: © USFWS
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Service Proposes Changes to the Duck Stamp to Celebrate the Conservation Achievements of Waterfowl Hunters

January 23, 2020

Over the past century, waterfowl hunters have helped create and conserve millions of acres of wetland habitat that not only provide places for a wide diversity of wildlife to thrive, but also help in flood control and water purification efforts, and create significant economic stimulus for rural communities. The Service today proposed to celebrate these hunters' remarkable achievements and our unique American hunting heritage with a permanent change to the Federal Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp, commonly known as the Duck Stamp.

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Learn more about the Duck Stamp »»

Draft Proposed Rule »»

This 2019-20 Duck Stamp featuring a wood duck and decoy illustrates one type of hunting-related element that artists may incorporate into future stamp designs. Credit: © USFWS
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Double-crested cormorant. Credit: USFWS
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Service Solicits Public Input on Cormorant Management

January 21, 2020

As part of ongoing efforts to address conflicts between double-crested cormorants and wild and stocked fisheries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking and soliciting public input on future management options.

 

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Double-crested cormorant. Credit: USFWS
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By the mid-twentieth century, fewer than 30 nene remained in the wild on a small area on the island of Hawaii; 13 birds survived in captivity. Today there are more than 2,800 individual birds. Credit: Brenda Zaun/USFWS
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Hawaii's State Bird is On the Road to Recovery

January 16, 2020

After 60 years of effective collaborative conservation efforts among federal, state and local partners the Hawaiian goose, or nene, is one step closer to recovery. An intensive captive-breeding program, rigorous habitat restoration and active management strategies have led to the nene's return from the brink of extinction. As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a decision to downlist the nene from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

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By the mid-twentieth century, fewer than 30 nene remained in the wild on a small area on the island of Hawaii; 13 birds survived in captivity. Today there are more than 2,800 individual birds. Credit: Brenda Zaun/USFWS
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A black-capped chickadee perches on a branch. Credit: David Ellis/USFWS
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Where are the Winter Birds?

January 16, 2020

Have you noticed that the number of birds visiting your yard each winter seems to fluctuate year to year? Some years it may seem that you have an abundance of birds, making it difficult to keep feeders stocked, while other years seem much more manageable. What you might be experiencing is called an irruption – a sharp, irregular movement of birds to an area where they aren’t normally found. While this may seem unusual, it’s more common than you might think.

A Wide Variety of Birds Can Have Irruptions »»

A black-capped chickadee perches on a branch. Credit: David Ellis/USFWS
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Wetlands Credit: Kayt Johnson/USFWS
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Service Increases Transparency on Refuge Wetland Easements

January 3, 2020

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued new internal guidance to provide better government services and alleviate conflict with landowners stemming from easement deeds that pre-date 1976. Easement deeds that pre-date 1976 did not contain maps or sufficiently detailed descriptions to ensure accurate demarcation of wetland easement boundaries. The Service is modernizing the way it demarcates wetland easements to clear up this confusion.

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Wetlands Credit: Kayt Johnson/USFWS
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Members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., commemorate a visit to Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut. Credit: USFWS
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Try Nature. It’s Good for You.

January 2, 2020

Getting outdoors in nature — on national wildlife refuges, for example — can improve your peace of mind and physical well-being. Many refuges are working with their communities to strengthen that health-and-nature connection.

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Members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., commemorate a visit to Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut. Credit: USFWS
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Wetland area at Green River National Wildlife Refuge in Kentucky. Credit: USFWS
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Service Unveils New National Wildlife Refuge in Kentucky

December 22, 2019

Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, along with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and other officials, announced the establishment of the Green River National Wildlife Refuge near the confluence of the Ohio and Green rivers in Henderson, Kentucky. This is the 568th refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

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Wetland area at Green River National Wildlife Refuge in Kentucky. Credit: USFWS
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