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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Generations of Hunters

  hunters at sunrise on Agassiz RefugeSunrise at Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota. Regulated seasonal hunting is permitted at more than 330 national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts, in keeping with conservation objectives. Photo by USFWS

For millions of American families, the hunting conservation ethic is a way of life to be passed on proudly through generations. 

The DeSpains of Arkansas and the Johnsons of Minnesota are two such families. They enjoy hunting at and near Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Fergus Falls Wetland Management District, respectively. 

RELATED: Benefits to Hunters and Anglers Pay Dividends for All Americans. But We Must Fight For Them, says Dan Ashe

In this week’s National Wildlife Refuge System feature story, “Generations of Hunters,” they explain why hunting is important to them.

generations of hunting family in a blindJenny Johnson, left, with daughters Ally and Rebecca and the girls’ grandfather. “I want to teach them love and respect for the world around us, not just seeing it through the eyes of social media but to see it firsthand,” Jenny Johnson says. “Being out there firsthand and experiencing the hunt gives them the kind of love and respect that is hard to learn otherwise.” Photo courtesy of the Johnson family

Hunters like the DeSpains, Johnsons and others help conserve natural resources. Ninety-eight percent of the price of Duck Stamps purchased by hunters and other conservationists goes to acquiring wetland habitat on national wildlife refuges.

Hunters also bolster the overall economy. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey estimated that 13.7 million people spent $33.7 billion hunting in United States in 2011, the most recent year from which such data is available.

 Will Despain with a harvested turkeyWill DeSpain at age 14 in 1995. Hunting teaches gun safety, he says. “It makes you responsible. It’s not easy … You may hunt two or three weekends and not even see a deer … It takes patience and respect for the outdoors.” Photo courtesy of the DeSpain family

“Generations of Hunters” is part of the Refuge System’s series of weekly online stories that use photos to highlight the conservation work and visitor opportunities at national wildlife refuges, wetland management districts and marine national monuments. A new story is posted on the Refuge System front page each Wednesday. Past stories are archived here.

The Perfect Day

  Dan and pheasants

For a lot of hunters, there is one special time among all of your hunting trips that stands out in your memory as having been perfect, a day of pure bliss when all the stars line up just right and everything connects at just the right time and in just the right place.

Read about Dan Magneson's

‘Silent Spring’ Turns 54; Thanks Rachel Carson

  carson on a mountain with binocularsRachel Carson on Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania.

Please do not hold this against me, but until I started working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I did not know who conservation hero Rachel Carson was. I am sure that somewhere along the line I heard of her groundbreaking book Silent Spring, which was published on this day 54 years ago today, but I didn’t remember its story or that of the author.


Shortly after I arrived at FWS after years in newspapers, I asked a former office-mate who the woman in a frame on her shelf was. Rachel Carson, she declared, and so I started digging into her to find out what I should have known all along. Biologist-writer Rachel Carson -- What an amazing woman. That she was a woman makes her achievements all the more remarkable given the time, but she was truly an amazing person. 

She’d have been truly remarkable without Silent Spring -- scientist, best-selling author -- but that book cemented her legacy as someone who helped launch the contemporary environmental movement and prompted  Americans to be conscious of the environment.

  Carson and UdallRachel Carson meets with Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall in 1962.

Silent Spring

Carson, a onetime writer-biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, once said that "man's endeavors to control nature by his powers to alter and to destroy would inevitably evolve into a war against himself, a war he would lose unless he came to terms with nature." 

In Silent Spring she opened the eyes of society to the dangers of indiscriminate use of the pesticide DDT. She stood tall despite withering attacks on her professional and personal integrity. And in the end, the federal government banned DDT. 

Since the banning of DDT, the bald eagle, brown pelican and peregrine falcon, once devastated by the effects of the pesticide, all soar the skies freely in increasing numbers, after decades of recovery efforts. 

  Carson and HinesWildlife artist Bob Hines and Rachel Carson spent many hours along the Atlantic coast visiting refuges and gathering material for many of the agency’s pamphlets and technical publications.

Thank you, Rachel Carson; I’m sorry I didn’t know of you sooner. 

I hope you don’t you make that same mistake I did. Check out our websites on her (https://www.fws.gov/rachelcarson/, https://training.fws.gov/History/ConservationHeroes/Carson.html, https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Rachel_Carson/about/rachelcarson.html), read Silent Spring, or just enjoy nature and let your heart be filled by a “sense of wonder,” one of Carson’s wonderful phrases.


Matt Trott, External Affairs


Company Spirit: When Employees Volunteer on National Wildlife Refuges, Everyone Wins

  One FedEx volunteer gives another a plantFedEx employees plant native flowers at the entrance of a new multi-use trail extension at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia. The extension will connect the refuge with local communities. Audubon Pennsylvania helped organize the event. Photo by USFWS

Across America, employees are going green in a new way.

They’re clearing trails and planting native flowers at national wildlife refuges, with enthusiastic backing from their supervisors. Sometimes, their companies even pay them to volunteer.

“Company Spirit” — this week’s theme in the National Wildlife Refuge System’s new series of online stories — showcases some of these refuge initiatives. 

  Luann Coen pushes Miroslawa  Gehman in a wheelbarrowLuann Coen, senior deduction specialist at Brother International, gives a ride to Miroslawa Gehman, senior deductions manager, at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey in April 2016. Photo by Kai H. Fan

Here’s a preview:

Companies that send teams to volunteer each year at nearby refuges include such household names as Canon, FedEx, Ford, Monsanto, The Home Depot and The North Face.

A funny thing happens in the process: Team members fall in love with refuges and wildlife conservation.

“You walk away with just a really good feeling,” says Jennifer Hickson, manager of The North Face’s Lincoln City, Oregon, store. Her group volunteers several times a year at three nearby refuges, including Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where they cleared invasive scotch broom this spring.  

  Kevin Haughtwout and Cristy Rosario plant native spicebushBrother International manager of product development Kevin Haughtwout and administrative assistant Cristy Rosario plant native spicebush, the host plant for the spicebush swallowtail, at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, in April 2016. Photo by Kai H Fan

“It started out being just our team. Now we bring our families. They want to be part of it, too. Because they hear you say, ‘Yeah, it was a hard day. Yeah, I’m sore. But you wouldn’t believe the feeling of accomplishment, the feeling you’re making a difference.’ ” 

  Monsanto employees transplant plants into planters 
Monsanto employees transplant more than 2,500 plants and plant nearly 600 others outdoors at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa in April 2016. Photo by USFWS

That good feeling translates into benefits for participating companies, too – like higher staff morale and more camaraderie.

“We do good work for the refuge, and the company gets something back...,” says Doriana Allyn, senior environmental health and safety manager at Brother International, which sends a volunteer crew every year to Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey.

Refuges, for their part, welcome the show of company spirit.

“Absolutely, we like it,” says visitor services manager Jonathan Rosenberg at Great Swamp Refuge. “It brings visitors to the refuge, gets work done on the ground, sells our mission and gets our conservation message out there in the corporate world. It’s all good stuff.”

See a PHOTO album of private company teams volunteering on national wildlife refuges.

Read the full story: “Company Spirit.”

We hope you’ll also check out Refuges’ homepage, and share your thoughts, photos and videos with us on FacebookTwitter, Flickr and YouTube. Like what you see? Share it with your friends and family. Thanks, and see you on a refuge!



Susan Morse, National Wildlife Refuge System communications

Threatened Seabirds Get a New Home…and a Helicopter Ride!

Newell's shearwater chick in burrow. Photo credit: Andre Raine/Kaua?i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project Newell's shearwater chick in burrow. Photo by Andre Raine/Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project

Seven threatened Newell’s Shearwater (‘A‘o) chicks had quite an adventure this week that ended with the birds in a new home complete with predator-proof fencing at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii. Hawaiian petrels were successfully translocated to Kilauea Point last year.

Make Way for Beetles

Living on the beach may sound like a luxury to most people, but for the tiny Puritan tiger beetle it is the only way to survive. Get an up-close view of how we are helping endangered beetles re-establish populations in their sandy homes!

Read More

Southern California Shares the Land with Native Wildlife

Dana Point headlandsOur Habitat Conservation Plan tool and unlikely allies created a strategy for balancing development and conservation across the landscape in Orange County, one of southern California’s most populated areas.

African Grey Parrot: Species in Decline

The United States is a proponent or co-proponent of various proposals to help increase protections for species at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Read more about these species.

2 Events Celebrate the Outdoors

Both National Public Lands Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day take place Saturday.

  NLPD workersVolunteers work at Desert National Wildlife Refuge on NLPD 2014.

National Public Lands Day, or NPLD for short, encourages everyone to help your lands shine.

Here is a tiny sample of events you can take part in: At St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, volunteers will be working on milkweed propagation gardens and cleaning pollinator gardens in preparation for Monarch Month (October) and the 27th Annual Monarch Butterfly Festival.  Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, along with the Friends of Trinity River Refuge, will host a trash cleanup day. Volunteers at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey will work to control invasive species. Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota will host conversation activities during its annual Wildlife Festival.

ENTER: “I Love My Land” National Video Contest

If you need more incentive, NPLD is a fee-free day on federally managed public lands.

Find a National Public Lands Day event near you here.

Father and Son Hunting  


A father and son hunt on Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge in Missouri.  Photo by volunteer Carol Weston

National Hunting and Fishing Day, first established in 1972, celebrates the many conservation efforts of hunters. Hunters and anglers are sometimes called the “first conservationists,” and they have supported conservation of the nation’s wildlife resources since the late 19th century. They willingly dug into their own pockets to provide needed money for conservation by backing programs like the Federal Duck Stamp and the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. And so much more.

“The highly successful North American model of wildlife conservation is founded on our nation’s great hunting and fishing heritage,” our Director Dan Ashe has said. “This tradition was the primary driver behind the creation of the Refuge System that has since set aside millions of acres of land for the conservation of all wildlife."

Hunting is offered at more than 300 national wildlife refuges and protected wetlands. Quality fishing opportunities are available on more than 270 national wildlife refuges.

These are YOUR lands; get outdoors and feel that connection with the natural world.

More on volunteering, hunting and fishing

Go Fish: Yes, Please

Seeing the original blog on favorite fish to catch, a few more colleagues sent in their picks:

  Nathan Renick  and son

Nathan Renick, refuge forester at Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, said he and his son “enjoy chasing largemouth bass for the challenge and excitement.  We always come away with great memories of the trip, along with quality time spent with friends and family.”

  trophy wall

Caroline Peterschmidt, the hatchery manager at Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery in Oregon, recalled a favorite fishing memory: “When my siblings and I were kids, Dad would take us fishing in Puget Sound and Hood Canal for blackmouth and sea run cutthroat and coho [types of salmon]. When we caught something, we'd carefully trace it out on a flattened out brown paper bag, write down the pertinent information, and it would get glued to the trophy wall in the garage. When we'd all grown and moved out, the folks sold that big house and one of the bittersweet things was having to leave that trophy wall behind. I remember not being all that interested in the fish, but more about hanging over the side of that little aluminum boat and being fascinated watching the bottom flow past as we trolled for cutthroat just offshore. Seaweed, starfish, colored rocks, mysterious shadows and strange life forms of another world. I also remember not really wanting to touch those icky slimy fish or help clean them. And look what I do now ... I'm sure Dad laughed about that more than once.”

 Andrew Mueller

Andrew Mueller, a grants management specialist with our Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, said: “Here in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it is difficult to pick just one species to consider your ‘favorite’" but I guess I would consider the iconic striped bass, aka striper, aka rockfish.  Here is my personal best (45" and 30lbs), caught from the rocks at Indian River Inlet in Delaware on a 7' two-piece ugly stick and 6" swim shad lure (on my 32nd birthday nonetheless!).”

  Kathryn Jahn

Kathryn Jahn, the Department of the Interior case manager for the Hudson River Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), sent this photo of lake trout (second from left) and others from Owasco Lake. She wrote: “Lake trout are native to New York State waters, and found throughout the Finger Lakes (of which Owasco Lake is one). We troll for them, sometimes using downriggers, from our boat. They are fabulous as smoked fish.”

  Jason Goldberg

While saying it isn’t his favorite, Jason Goldberg in our Branch of Aquatic Invasive Species sent in a photo with an invasive bighead carp from a Carp Corral in Illinois, catching invasive carp. "One of the more surreal experiences I've had, electrofishing for carp and watching them jump." Silver carp, a type of Asian carp, are sensitive to the electrical currents, so they may jump out of the water. They are also responding to the sound/vibration of the boat motor. Recreational boaters will elicit the same reaction in silver carp without having electrofishing gear in the water.

 Andrew Mueller

And speaking of invasives, Mueller included a picture of the northern snakehead, which, according to Andrew, tastes great.

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