Shutdown Notice
Due to the lapse in federal appropriations, this website will not be updated until further notice. Where public access to refuge lands does not require the presence of a federal employee or contractor, activities on refuge lands will be allowed to continue on the same terms as before the appropriations lapse. Any entry onto Refuge System property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor's sole risk. Please read this important updated message about the closure of National Wildlife Refuge System facilities during the shutdown, and refer to alerts posted on individual refuge websites for the status of visitor facilities and previously scheduled events that may still occur during the shutdown.

For more information, please visit the Department of Interior webpage at


  • 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