Coronavirus (COVID-19) Notice
Although most refuge lands and outdoor spaces have remained open for the public to enjoy, we ask that you do the following:

  • Check local conditions on this website and call ahead for current information. Operations vary based on local public health conditions.
  • Face masks are required in all federal buildings and on all federal lands.
  • Maintain a safe distance between yourself and other groups.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Most importantly, stay home if you feel sick


  • Cave Crayfish 150x119

    Delaware County Cave Crayfish

    This species occurs in subterranean pools, streams, moist passageways, and is associated with ground-water aquifers and caves.

    Learn More

  • Big-eared bat

    Ozark Big-eared Bats

    The Ozark big-eared bat is appropriately named! Its ears are nearly 1.5 inches long, one third of their total body length.

    Nature's pesticide

  • Ozark Cavefish 150x119

    Ozark Cavefish

    These fish live in total darkness. They depend on sensory organs on their head, body and tail to find food.

    In the dark...

  • Gray Bat

    Gray Bats

    These fast flying bats can eat thousands of insects in one night and like to forage over streams and lakes.

    Insect eaters


Underground Streams & Caves


The key geologic feature common throughout the Ozark Plateau is the karst geological formations, which include underground caverns, sinkholes and streams, some of which resurface as natural seeps or springs. Many of the plants and animals found here are not only unique to the Ozark Plateau but to the specific cave or spring in which they are found.

Wildlife and Habitat
Featured Stories

History of Conservation

In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt established the Pelican Island Bird Reservation, the first of 53 federal reserves he would create during his time in office and the roots of what is today known as the National Wildlife Refuge System. The 26th president was a dedicated naturalist throughout his life and is considered by many to have been the country’s “Conservationist President.” It was in the infancy of the Refuge System when President Roosevelt said, “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.”

National Wildlife Refuge System

About the NWRS

National Wildlife Refuge System


The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife, and plants.

Learn more about the NWRS