What We Do

The National Wildlife Refuge System is a series of lands and waters owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the refuge system. It drives everything we do from the purpose a refuge is established, to the recreational activities offered there, to the resource management tools we use. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the refuge.

Both the endangered Iowa Pleistocene snail and the threatened northern monkshood are monitored to ensure that populations are healthy and viable. While the monkshood plants can be carefully counted, tiny snails are much more of a chore. Only estimates and trends can be determined for snail populations. Snails are sampled with the aid of boards placed on the algific talus slopes to act as “traps.” They are attracted to the cool, moist undersides of the boards where they are measured, marked and counted. Monkshood populations are being monitored and genetic studies are being conducted so population differences can be better understood.

Management and Conservation

Refuges use a wide range of land management tools based on the best science available. Some refuges use prescribed fires to mimic natural fires that would have cleared old vegetation from the land helping native plants regenerate and local wildlife to thrive. Other refuges contain Wilderness areas where land is largely managed in passively. The management tools used are aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach where both wildlife and people will benefit.

Law Enforcement

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Officers help visitors understand and obey wildlife protection laws. They work closely with state and local government offices to enforce federal, state and refuge hunting regulations that protect migratory birds and other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities.

Laws and Regulations

The Howard Creek, Fern Ridge and Pine Creek units have areas open to limited hunting, fishing, wildlife photography and wildlife observation. No visitation is allowed on the remaining seven units to protect fragile algific (cold air) talus (loose rock) slopes and the threatened, endangered and rare plant and animal species found there.