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.

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. 

Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge’s management strategy is based on a landscape or ecosystem approach that provides long term protection for the Ozark’s natural resources. To accomplish this, the management priorities include: 

  • Limiting disturbance and habitat degradation of caves important to endangered species, including the Ozark big-eared bat.  

  • Protecting habitat, including wildlife corridors, resting and roosting areas, migratory bird habitat and foraging areas.  

  • Ensuring water quality through ground water recharge areas by protecting large continuous stands of Ozark forest on and surrounding the refuge. This is done through controlled burns, appropriate timber and livestock management practices, protecting and re-establishing native vegetation, and boundary marking and fencing. 

  • Mapping caves and their recharge areas to identify their extent, openings, overlying land use and drainage patterns in order to address problems as they arise. 

  • Documenting base-line conditions on the refuge and monitor populations of both listed and species of concern to determine if management activities are effective. 

Law Enforcement

Federal law enforcement officers ensure the safety of the public and the protection of natural resources. They address illegal activities, including poaching, taking of endangered species, dumping of trash, illegal operation of all-terrain vehicles, trespassing and more.  

To report a violation on Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge: 

  • Monday through Friday, 7:30am to 4:00 p.m., call 918-326-0156 
  • After hours or on weekends, call 918-774-2832 

For injured wildlife, please contact a qualified wildlife rehabilitation facility near you.  

Laws and Regulations

To protect the delicate caves and habitat from human disturbance, the refuge is generally closed to public use except for hunting or certain planned events by permit only. Hunting on Ozark Plateau National Wildlife refuge follows Oklahoma state rules.