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  • San Andres's 75th Anniversary logo / © Mr. Kim Van Zandt

    Our Diamond Anniversary

    San Andres National Wildlife Refuge is celebrating its 75th Anniversary throughout 2016! The refuge was established January 22, 1941!

    Our 75th Anniversary logo image - enlarged

  • Bee on aster flower / K. Cobble, USFWS

    Help Save Our Pollinators!

    Try our most recent interactive Game which showcases an invaluable Pollinator! This is the first in a series of our Pollinator Game.

    "The Pollinator" interactive Game... wait to load ~

  • Young bull elk 218 x 151

    About the Refuge

    Wild places have value to us whether we can visit them or not. San Andres National Wildlife Refuge is one of those places . . .

    Learn More

  • Young black bear / Refuge remote camera, USFWS

    Most Startling!

    A few years ago, the first documented and photographed black bear was sighted on the refuge! A few more are seen today, as this young one.

    North American black bear

Remembering Our Past ... and

Established in 1941

Desert bighorn sheep ram / M. Weisenberger, USFWS

San Andres National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 by Executive Order 8646 for the “conservation and development of natural wildlife resources.” Primary emphasis since its establishment has been the restoration and management of a native, remnant desert bighorn sheep herd (Ovis canadensis mexicana). When the Refuge was established in 1941, there were approximately 31-33 desert bighorn sheep inhabiting the San Andres Mountains. The desert bighorn sheep was a State of New Mexico listed Threatened and Endangered species up until 2011. After years of relocation and protection efforts, the species count is now up to over 600 animals statewide! San Andres National Wildlife Refuge has played a significant role in the desert bighorn's recovery, with the count of sheep on the Refuge estimated at a minimum of 176 today! At one time there was only one remaining desert bighorn sheep ewe from the original native San Andres Mountain range herd! You can read the full story on this amazing ewe in our "On the Road to Recovery" section below at the bottom of this page, and within a link on our "Recovery of the Desert Bighorn" page.


1941: A Busy Year for Refuges

Desert bighorn sheep / © C. Rodden, Environmental Division, White Sands Missile Range

In early 1941, twelve (12) national wildlife refuges were established, including ours! San Andres National Wildlife Refuge's establishment was January 22, 1941. View information on each refuge, in the link below.

Wildlife Refuge's Celebrating 75 Years This Year!

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  

Follow NWRS Online


Looking Towards the Future!

  • - Continued . . .

    Bobcat / Refuge remote camera

    In addition to the desert bighorn sheep, thirty seven species of mammals have been documented on the Refuge including: desert mule deer, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, desert cottontail, jack rabbit, ring-tailed cat, skunk, porcupine, raccoon, bats, rock and ground squirrel, black bear, an occasional elk, and a wide variety of rodents that are typical of western mountains and deserts. More than 175 bird species inhabit the Refuge for all or part of the year. Over fifty (50+) new bird species have been documented for the Refuge since 1993! A variety of raptors including golden eagle, red-tailed hawk, and turkey vulture are seen daily. The Greater roadrunner (New Mexico's State bird) and the Gambel's and Scaled quail are common. More than 45 species of reptiles occur on the Refuge including several species of rattlesnake and a variety of non-poisonous snakes, collared lizard, Texas horned lizard, and several other lizard species. Amphibian species include the red spotted toad. Initial studies of invertebrates include 40 species of butterflies, 24 species of damselflies, and 18 species of dragonflies. Several of the damselflies and dragonflies are new county records for Doña Ana County.

  • Our Protected Future!

    Prescribed burn / C. Bartram, USFWS

    Because there is restricted access onto the Refuge and the lands remain relatively undisturbed, the future will continue to provide the Refuge with opportunities to serve as a natural laboratory in support of research on the southwestern plants and animals, Chihuahuan Desert ecosystems, ground water movement and distribution status, fire effects (from managed fuels reduction prescribed fires and natural lightning strike fires), and historical/cultural sites. The Refuge periodically conducts prescribed fires to mimic the natural historic fire regime and improve habitat for desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, and quail. Since the Refuge's first prescribed fire in 1999, more than 57,000 acres have been treated. Another Refuge priority is to monitor and control non-native invasive species which compete with native species and impact the Refuge's ability to conserve the natural wildlife resources. One such invader, salt cedar (Tamarix chinensis), is a tree species introduced to the southwest in the early 1900's. It has since spread throughout the region and spans across boundaries of federal ownership in the San Andres Mountains. Salt cedar forms dense thickets that crowd out other desirable native species, proliferates rapidly, consuming the natural water supply available to native plants. It also creates large deposits of salt in the soil, which prevents other plants from growing in these tainted areas. Interagency control of this damaging plant protects sensitive riparian habitat and other remote areas in this desert mountain range, contributing to the benefit of the greater landscape. The Refuge has been and will continue to be an important area in the landscape wide effort to protect those unique plant and animal resources within the San Andres Mountain range.

Page Photo Credits — Fall cottonwood trees in refuge riparian spring / K. Cobble, USFWS, San Andres National Wildlife Refuge 75th Anniversary logo / © Mr. Kim Van Zandt, Bee on aster flower / K. Cobble, USFWS, Young bull elk / Refuge remote camera, USFWS, Young black bear / Refuge remote camera, USFWS, Desert bighorn sheep ram / M. Weisenberger, USFWS, Desert bighorn sheep / © C. Rodden, ES-WSMR, Bobcat / Refuge remote camera, USFWS, Prescribed burn / C. Bartram, USFWS, Desert bighorn sheep ewe with lamb / © C. Rodden, ES-WSMR
Last Updated: Oct 04, 2016
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