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Stories from the Home Page

Examples of rhino horns seized during Operation Crash. Credit: USFWS
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Rhino Horn Trafficker Sentenced to One Year in Prison

December 17, 2015

A San Francisco art dealer was sentenced and fined Dec. 16 for his role in the illegal sale of black rhino horns. He was brought to justice as part of Operation Crash, an ongoing investigation targeting illegal trafficking of rhino horn and elephant ivory. A “crash” is the term for a herd of rhinoceros. As of November 2015, more than 20 subjects have been prosecuted and sentenced, and forfeiture and restitution amounts have totaled $5.5 million as a result of Operation Crash, which is being conducted by the Service and other federal and local law enforcement agencies.

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Examples of rhino horns seized during Operation Crash. Credit: USFWS
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The Northern Distinct Population Segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog was listed as endangered in 2014. More than 90 percent of the population has disappeared. Credit: Isaac Chellman / NPS
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Biologists Team up with Zoos to Save Frogs on Brink of Extinction

December 16, 2015

Critically endangered tadpoles emergency evacuated from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California and transported to Oakland Zoo and San Francisco Zoo over the summer have successfully morphed into healthy mountain yellow-legged frogs. Non-native trout and a deadly disease have decimated the frog. The Service, National Park Service and the worked together on this effort, and the goal is to release the frogs back into the parks in the summer.

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The Northern Distinct Population Segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog was listed as endangered in 2014. More than 90 percent of the population has disappeared. Credit: Isaac Chellman / NPS
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Gila topminnows. Credit: Courtesy George Andrejko / Arizona Game and Fish Department
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Endangered Fish Rediscovered in Arizona’s Santa Cruz River

December 10, 2015

After a 10-year absence, the Gila topminnow has returned to the Santa Cruz River in southern Arizona. Last month, researchers found the native Arizona species, listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1967, in the river near the U.S.-Mexico border during the annual fish survey. The fish’s return demonstrates the role of recycled wastewater in ecosystem recovery.

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Gila topminnows. Credit: Courtesy George Andrejko / Arizona Game and Fish Department
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Canada geese. Credit: USFWS
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Service Proposes Liberal Framework for Migratory Game Bird Hunting Seasons

December 10, 2015

Steady or improving population numbers have allowed the Service to propose continued liberal game bird hunting seasons and bag limits for 2016-17. A new process for setting these frameworks streamlines regulatory practices and gives biologists more time to analyze bird survey data. Each year, the Service works with states to establish frameworks for hunting season lengths, dates and bag limits.

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Canada geese. Credit: USFWS
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USFWS oil and gas specialist inspects an oil production site at the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Credit: USFWS
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Service Proposes Improvements to 50 Year-old Regulations Governing Oil and Gas Development on Refuge System Lands

December 10, 2015

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement to update 50 year-old regulations governing the management of non-federal oil and gas development on National Wildlife Refuge System lands. The proposed revisions continue to allow for the responsible extraction of oil and gas, but require closer adherence to industry best management practices – especially with respect to abandoned infrastructure and debris. The regulations will reduce refuge impacts, including habitat loss and degradation, wildlife mortality and displacement, and other risks to ecological integrity.

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USFWS oil and gas specialist inspects an oil production site at the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Credit: USFWS
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Kids on snowshoes at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS
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Scenic Snow Trails You’ll Love at National Wildlife Refuges

December 9, 2015

Here’s a cure for winter blues: Explore scenic nature trails by snowshoe or cross-country ski at a national wildlife refuge. Some refuges lend you the equipment free. Look for animal tracks – easy to spot in the snow – and occasional wildlife sightings. For maps or more detailed trail descriptions, contact the refuges.

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Kids on snowshoes at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS
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White pelicans wintering at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Credit: USFWS
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National Wildlife Refuges Announce Fee-Free Days for 2016!

December 9, 2015

Get outside and enjoy some of the country’s most magical places – America’s national wildlife refuges offer unparalleled opportunities to experience the great outdoors and see a rich diversity of wildlife in beautiful natural settings. If that wasn’t enticement enough, refuges that normally charge entrance fees will offer an additional incentive — free admission on certain days in 2016. There’s at least one refuge in every state…and one within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas.

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White pelicans wintering at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Credit: USFWS
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A Bornean orangutan mother and infant in Sabangau Forest. Credit: OuTrop
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Agents Arrest Two in Wildlife Smuggling Scheme

December 8, 2015

The Service-led Operation Pongo has resulted in the arrest of two men after they allegedly illegally smuggled orangutan skulls and parts of other protected wildlife into the United States. The operation name comes from the orangutan’s genus Pongo. 

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A Bornean orangutan mother and infant in Sabangau Forest. Credit: OuTrop
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One of the hunters illegally killed a grizzly bear. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / USFWS
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Hunting Show Host, Others Plead Guilty in Multi-year Poaching Operation in Alaska

December 2, 2015

Syndicate TV show host Clark Dixon recently pleaded guilty to two felony violations of the Lacey Act and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, a fine of $75,000, and forfeiture of 17 trophies, bows and rifles used in the illegal take of game in Alaska. Others, including his father, who forfeited an aircraft used in the illegal hunts, pleaded guilty to numerous violations of hunting laws.

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One of the hunters illegally killed a grizzly bear. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / USFWS
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American oystercatcher with chick. Credit: USFWS
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Atlantic Shorebirds Get International Help

December 1, 2015

A storymap from the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative shows international efforts to conserve shorebirds in the face of climate change and other threats. The initiative is a collaborative effort by the Service, numerous federal, state, provincial and local governments, and others to conserve shorebirds from their breeding grounds in the Arctic to their wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America.

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More on the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative »»

American oystercatcher with chick. Credit: USFWS
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Wisdom (left) with her mate at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge/Battle of Midway National Memorial. Credit: Kiah Walker
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Midway Gets a Welcome Dose of Wisdom

November 30, 2015

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross and the world’s oldest known banded bird in the wild, has returned to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial. Wisdom was first banded in 1956. And because Laysan albatross do not return to breed until they are at least 5 years old, it is estimated Wisdom is at least 64 years old, but she could be older.

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Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial »»

Wisdom (left) with her mate at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge/Battle of Midway National Memorial. Credit: Kiah Walker
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Hikers on a winding trail at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Credit: Francesca Fischer
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Give Thanks for Nature, and Take a Hike

November 24, 2015

If you need to make room for more pie or maybe work off that extra slice, why not take a walk on a scenic walking trail on a national wildlife refuge? Many cities have one closer than you might think. Our natural heritage is something we can all be proud of and indulge in. 

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Hikers on a winding trail at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Credit: Francesca Fischer
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White Rhino and calf. Credit: Michelle Gadd / USFWS
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Two Years in Prison for Smuggler of Cups Made from Rhino Horn

November 19, 2015

An antiques dealer has been sentenced to two years in prison for his role in a wildlife trafficking scheme in which he purchased and smuggled 16 ceremonial cups carved from rhinoceros horns and worth more than $1 million from the United States to China. The man was arrested as part of Operation Crash, a continuing investigation by the Service to detect, deter and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the unlawful trafficking of rhinoceros horns.

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White Rhino and calf. Credit: Michelle Gadd / USFWS
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Service Deputy Director Jim Kurth (fourth from left) joins members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority at the celebration. Credit: USFWS
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Houston Goes Wild!

November 19, 2015

The Service and many partners celebrated the establishment of the Houston Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership on Wednesday. With more than 20 partners on board including the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, the Service is helping Houstonians learn about, find and care for nature right in their own community.

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Service Deputy Director Jim Kurth (fourth from left) joins members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority at the celebration. Credit: USFWS
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Gabe Harper discusses trafficking. Credit: USFWS
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Service’s Conservation Connect Discusses Wildlife Trafficking Online

November 16, 2015

Join Service staff online at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday to learn about Law Enforcement and Wildlife Trafficking. It’s the latest installment of Conservation Connect, a web-based video series that aims to connect young people with the great outdoors and conservation careers.

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Gabe Harper discusses trafficking. Credit: USFWS
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