Resource Management

Refuge staff depends upon and utilizes various tools to manage Kofa National Wildlife Refuge for the benefit of wildlife.

Bighorn Sheep Conservation
Between 2000 and 2006, the number of desert bighorn sheep on the refuge declined from more than 800 animals to less than 400. As a result of the decline, transplants of bighorn sheep from Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to other areas of Arizona and neighboring states were suspended in 2005. Surveys conducted from 2007 to 2012 show little increase has since taken place. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working closely with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, has undertaken an effort to increase the number of sheep by investigating the causes of sheep mortality, controlling predation of bighorns, reducing the number of hunting permits issued annually, and identifying lambing areas that may be potentially closed to human entry during the peak of lambing season. Permanent water is being maintained in locations known to be critical to the desert bighorn sheep as well.

Water Management
Water is scarce in the desert. Natural water sources are highly variable and may not last until seasonal rains can replenish the supply. By enlarging natural water holes, shading them to reduce evaporation and building artificial basins in areas previously without a water supply, refuge managers have increased the availability and reliability of water. This has proven to be an important step in furthering the refuge’s efforts to conserve desert bighorn sheep and other species of wildlife. Camera traps have recorded such species as grey fox, mule deer, western spotted skunk, red tailed hawk, bobcat, and great horned owl at the water sources.

Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery
Written accounts indicate the Sonoran pronghorn was once common along the border between Arizona and Mexico, with herds of up to 200 roaming the valleys. Yet by 2002, there were as few as 21 adult Sonoran pronghorn in the United States. This dramatic decline was largely due to habitat degradation and fragmentation, poaching, unregulated hunting, and climatic shifts. In an attempt to recover the highly endangered Sonoran pronghorn, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge established a 320-acre breeding pen in December 2011. In spring 2012, the first Sonoran pronghorn fawns were born within the pen. By January 2013, the first group of pronghorn was released on the refuge and are now roaming freely.

Please drive carefully and should you see Sonoran pronghorn near the road, slow down and let them pass. Enjoy the opportunity to see these rare animals in the wild without disturbing them.

Bat Gates
In order to protect bat populations, bat gates are installed at the entrances of mines which are important hibernating, roosting and maternity areas for bats. The gates allow bats to freely fly in and out of the mines, while limiting human disturbance in the mine. The bat gates also help slow the spread of white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal infection that has killed more than five million bats in the eastern United States, by preventing its accidental transmission from humans to bats.

For more information about white-nose syndrome, please see our U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fact sheet.

Invasive Species
Several species of invasive, nonnative plants occur on Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. They include buffelgrass, Sahara mustard, salt cedar, Bermuda grass, and Russian thistle. With the help of organizations like the American Conservation Experience and the Southwest Conservation Corps, the refuge works to remove these invasive plants by hand or through the application of herbicides.

Trapping Occurs on this Refuge
Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations. Click here for more information.

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge & Wilderness and New Water Mountains Wilderness Interagency Management Plan and Environmental Assessment