U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

Muleshoe NWR plays host to wintering sanhill cranes between October and February.  An all-time peak of 250,000 cranes was witnessed at the refuge in 1981.
P.O. Box 549
Muleshoe, TX   79347
E-mail: fw2_rw_muleshoe@fws.gov
Phone Number: 806-946-3341
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Wintering sandhill cranes provide an outstanding attraction at Muleshoe NWR.
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Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge
Muleshoe NWR is the oldest national wildlife refuge in Texas. It was established by Executive Order on October 24, 1935. Located on the high plains of west Texas, Muleshoe was established as a wintering area for migrating waterfowl and sandhill cranes.

Getting There . . .
From Muleshoe: take Highway 214 south 20 miles. Drive west on County Road 1248 and go approximately 2.25 miles to Headquarters.

From Morton: Take Highway 214 north 18 miles. Drive west on County Road 1248 and go approximately 2.25 miles to Headquarters.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The outstanding attraction at Muleshoe NWR is the wintering sandhill cranes. They normally begin arriving around the end of September or the beginning of October. During the 6 month period the cranes are away from their Alaskan and Canadian breeding grounds, the refuge hosts one of the largest concentrations of sandhill cranes in North America. The number of cranes at the refuge peaks between December and mid-February, often with thousands of birds present at one time. An all-time peak of 250,000 cranes was witnessed in February 1981.

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The Refuge shares its name with the town and ranch. Since the 1700s or earlier, the area was within the bison hunting territory of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache tribes. Evidence of prehistoic bison hunting has been found on the Refuge.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Controlled burning is a management tool used at Muleshoe NWR. The alkali sacaton grass on the refuge is burned on an "as needed" basis since the older grass stands tend to become clumped over the years allowing bare soil areas to exist between the clumps. Although few other plant species will grow in the highly alkaline soils surrounding the refuge playa lakes, the burning rejuvenates these dense grass stands. This provides a somewhat more desireable wildlife habitat and provides more protection to the soil from both wind and water erosion.