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Stories from the Home Page

Winter has arrived at Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuges. Credit: Jacob Randa / USFWS
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Celebrate the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Your National Wildlife Refuge

January 15, 2016

In honor of Dr. King, all National Wildlife Refuges, like most of your public lands, will waive admission fees on Monday January 18. There is at least one refuge in every state and one within an hour's drive of most major metropolitan areas. If Monday doesn’t work for you, most refuges have no entrance fee, so any day is a good time to visit a refuge.

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Winter has arrived at Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuges. Credit: Jacob Randa / USFWS
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Northern long-eared bat with white-nose syndrome. Credit: Steve Taylor, University of Illinois
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Protections Finalized for Threatened Northern Long-Eared Bats

January 13, 2016

In an effort to conserve the northern long-eared bat, the Service announced a final rule today that uses the flexibilities of the Endangered Species Act to protect areas affected by white-nose syndrome, the primary threat to the bat. The rule will also minimize regulatory requirements on activities by landowners, land managers, government agencies and others within the species’ range that do not impact northern long-eared bat populations.

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Northern long-eared bat with white-nose syndrome. Credit: Steve Taylor, University of Illinois
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Rough-skinned newt Credit: Teal Waterstrat (USFWS) Credit: Teal Waterstrat / USFWS
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Service Helps Protect Native Salamanders from Deadly Fungus

January 12, 2016

To help prevent a fatal fungus from killing native salamanders, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing an interim rule to list 201 salamander species as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act. The fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, also known as Bsal or salamander chytrid, is carried on the skin of various salamander species and poses an imminent threat to U.S. native salamander populations. The fungus is not yet known to be found in the United States, and to help ensure it remains that way, the Service is publishing an interim rule that will take effect on January 28, 2016. 

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Rough-skinned newt Credit: Teal Waterstrat (USFWS) Credit: Teal Waterstrat / USFWS
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Snow geese at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Credit: Marvin De Jong
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Super Bird Fests at National Wildlife Refuges

January 12, 2016

New birder or old hand? No matter. It’s hard not to be moved by the sight of more birds erupting in flight than you’ve ever seen in your life. National wildlife refuges make great festival sites because so many of these special places are located along the country’s key migratory bird routes. Many festivals coincide with spring or fall migration. Here are some great refuge bird festivals to catch in 2016. The National Wildlife Refuge System protects natural habitat for America's treasured wildlife species.

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Snow geese at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Credit: Marvin De Jong
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A coyote in hoar frost at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming. Credit: Tom Koerner / USFWS
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National Wildlife Refuges: Conserving the Future for all Americans

January 12, 2016

The refuge system provides unparalleled opportunities for people of all ages in every state to experience the great outdoors and all it has to offer, while ensuring we pass on our spectacular wildlife heritage to our children and grandchildren. Learn about some of the unique animals and plants that refuges protect and what else these places have to offer in the latest issue of Refuge Update.

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Photo Gallery: Snowy Winter Wildlife on Refuges »»

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A coyote in hoar frost at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming. Credit: Tom Koerner / USFWS
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White pelicans at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Barbara Wheeler
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Service Statement on Illegal Occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

January 11, 2016

Thanks for your concern regarding the situation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. All FWS staff and volunteers are safe and accounted for. We hope this can be resolved peacefully and that the refuge will soon be safe for staff and visitors again. In the meantime, the refuge will remain closed until further notice. The FBI is the lead law enforcement agency moving forward. They will post latest updates here as they become available: http://www.flashalertbend.net/

White pelicans at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Barbara Wheeler
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West Indian manatee. Credit: S. Whitcraft / USFWS
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Service to Reclassify West Indian Manatee from Endangered to Threatened

January 7, 2016

The future looks a little bit brighter for the West Indian manatee, with populations recovering from historic lows. There is still more to be done to recover this fascinating mammal, but in recognition of the improvements so far, we have proposed downlisting it from Endangered to Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). That means ESA protections will remain in place, but its listing status will better reflect its condition in the wild.

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West Indian manatee. Credit: S. Whitcraft / USFWS
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One of the largest conservation efforts in U.S. history kept the greater sage-grouse off the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Credit: Jeannie Stafford / USFWS
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Endangered Species Act Moments in 2015 Worth Revisiting

December 31, 2015

The Endangered Species Act shone in 2015, helping threatened and endangered species across the globe. These milestones reaffirm both the importance of the act and our commitment to working with partners to conserve imperiled animals, plants and their habitats.

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One of the largest conservation efforts in U.S. history kept the greater sage-grouse off the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Credit: Jeannie Stafford / USFWS
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Salmon Camp Director Kari Eschenbacher joins Payton Callahan (fourth from left, back row) and other campers. Credit: Nicci Condon / USFWS
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Science Trumps Swing Set

December 30, 2015

What would compel a third-grader to skip the swing sets and spend recess chatting with a substitute teacher? All it takes is a teacher who doubles as director for Salmon Camp at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and a student who spent part of her summer at the popular science camp.

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Salmon Camp Director Kari Eschenbacher joins Payton Callahan (fourth from left, back row) and other campers. Credit: Nicci Condon / USFWS
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Service Releases 2015 List of Candidates for Endangered Species Act Protection

December 23, 2015

The Service today released the Candidate Notice of Review, a yearly status appraisal of plants and animals that are candidates for Endangered Species Act protection. Two species were removed from the list, and two changed in priority from the last review, conducted in December 2014, including the whitebark pine and Hirst Brothers' panic grass. There are now 60 species recognized by the Service as candidates for ESA protection.

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Rehabilitated arapaima in Shedd Aquarium's care. Credit: Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium
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Wildlife Trafficking: What Happens to Confiscated Animals?

December 21, 2015

When people think of wildlife trafficking, they often think of elephant ivory or rhino horn. But trafficking in live animals is also devastating – it not only removes species from their native habitat but also can leave officials with wildlife in need of rescue. In August, the Service turned to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium to help with more than 100 confiscated arapaima, one of the world’s largest freshwater fishes.

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Rehabilitated arapaima in Shedd Aquarium's care. Credit: Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium
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Pair of male lions. Credit: Heidi Ruffler / USFWS
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ESA Listing Protects Lions in Africa and India, Director’s Order Strengthens Wildlife Import Restrictions for Wildlife Law Violators

December 21, 2015

n response to the dramatic decline of lion populations in the wild, the Service today announced it will list two lion subspecies under the Endangered Species Act. Panthera leo leo, located in India and western and central Africa, will be listed as endangered, and Panthera leo melanochaita, located in eastern and southern Africa, will be listed as threatened. Lion populations have declined by 43 percent due to habitat loss, loss of prey base, and retaliatory killing of lions by humans. Service Director Dan Ashe also issued a Director’s Order to ensure violators of wildlife laws are not subsequently granted permits for future wildlife-related activities, including the import of sport-hunted trophies.

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Pair of male lions. Credit: Heidi Ruffler / USFWS
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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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