National Wildlife Refuge System

Happy 75th Anniversary Little Pend Oreille Refuge, WA

Wetland Restoration
Little Pend Oreille Refuge provides habitat for the endangered Canada lynx.
Credit: USFWS

May 1, 2014 - Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge is a mountainous forested refuge in northeast Washington, established in 1939 as a breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.  Now this 42,000- acre refuge provides habitat for 206 bird species, 58 mammal, 8 reptile and 6 amphibian species. Birds that depend on forest tree cavities are abundant – woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees.  Bald eagles winter along the Little Pend Oreille River and nest at Bayley Lake.

Nesting waterfowl include Canada geese, mallards, red-necked grebes, common goldeneyes, wood ducks and mergansers. The refuge also provides habitat for the threatened Canada lynx. In the winter, white-tailed deer move to the west side of the refuge where the snow is not as deep.  Gray wolves also inhabit the refuge. They are no longer a federally listed species, but are still protected in the state of Washington.

Wetland Restoration
There are more than 200 bird species at Little Pend Oreille Refuge, including the red crossbill.
Credit: Dan Price

Little Pend Oreille Refuge is now part of the Inland Northwest National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which also includes Turnbull Refuge in Cheney, Washington, and Kootenai Refuge in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.  “Little pend oreille” means “hangs from the ears” in French, a term used by French trappers for the indigenous population because of their large shell earrings. The Little Pend Oreille River runs through the refuge.

Little Pend Oreille has an active Friends support group, which is organizing a variety of summer activities to celebrate the 75th anniversary. Here is a sampling. For details call the refuge at 509-684-8384.
Look for more events in coming months on the refuge Web site and the Friends Facebook page

  • June 7: Birding hike with refuge biologist Mike Munts
  • June 21: Hike the Blacktail Mt. Loop with Friends President Dan Price. Dan will focus on the history and fauna of this remote section of the refuge
  • July 12: Join our 3rd annual Butterfly Count – great family activity
  • July 26: The Blue Goose Family Fun Bike Ride and 75th Anniversary celebration. There are 12 stops on the new auto tour route, which is expected to open by the end of June. It will feature colorful interpretive signs about the history, wildlife and management of the refuge.


Wetland Restoration
Long Lake is one of several lakes and ponds in this mountainous, forested refuge in northeastern Washington. Credit:
Credit: Friends of Little Pend Oreille Refuge

Recreation Opportunities
Little Pend Oreille Refuge is a popular destination for Northwest white-tailed deer and turkey hunters. A variety of big game, including a small but growing moose and elk population, draws more hunters each year. Several seasonally opened roads give hunters access to favorite hunting areas.  Anglers can try two fly-fishing lakes and river fishing. Potter’s Pond has a wheelchair-accessible fishing dock. There are trails where the careful observer might see black bear, bobcat, cougar, elk, mink and white-headed woodpecker. Little Pend Oreille Refuge is also open for camping from April 14 – December 31.  Biking and horseback riding are permitted on established roads. 



Last updated: May 1, 2014