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Wichita Mountains
Wildlife Refuge

The mosaic of granite boulders, wildflowers, lakes and forest create a wide variety of habitats at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
32 Refuge Headquarters
Indiahoma, OK   73552
E-mail: wichitamountains@fws.gov
Phone Number: 580-429-3222
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Spring at Wichita Mountains. Photographer: Sam Waldstein, June 2002
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Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
The 59,020-acre Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge hosts a rare piece of the past - a remnant mixed grass prairie. This refuge is an island where the natural carpet of grass escaped destruction because the rocks underfoot defeated the plow.

The prairie community hums with life. The refuge provides habitat for large native grazing animals and Texas Longhorn cattle. Bison, elk, deer, coyotes, red-tailed hawks, prairie dogs, turkey, bunch grasses, post oak and blackjack oaks - these are just a few. More than 50 mammal species, 240 bird species, 64 reptile and amphibian species, 36 fish species, and 806 plant species thrive at this refuge.

Getting There . . .
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is located 25 miles northwest of Lawton, Oklahoma. From Interstate 44, take exit 45 west 10 miles to the Refuge gate. If coming in from Highway 62, take Highway 115 (Cache exit) north to the Refuge gate. Contact Refuge Headquarters for more information.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The Wichita Refuge was originally managed to protect wildlife species then in grave danger of extinction and to restore those species that had been eliminated from the area. Buffalo were reintroduced, as were elk and wild turkey. Of the big game species, only the deer were present and flourished under protection. The rapid decline in numbers and purity of the historically significant longhorn cattle was recognized early in the century, and they were added to the list of introductions. Recent reintroductions include the prairie dog, now flourishing in three areas of the Refuge, the river otter, and burrowing owls.

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From an estimated 60 million bison, no more than a thousand could be found on the Great Plains in 1900. The slaughter was not limited to bison alone. The Wichita's original subspecies of elk was lost in 1881. The giant bronze turkey no longer gobbled along the creek bottoms. With such alarming loses, new conservation ideas were needed to preserve America's wildlife heritage.

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Management Activities
Four herds dominate the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, including American bison, Texas longhorn cattle, Rocky Mountain elk and white tailed deer. These four species are the basis for the vegetative management on the Refuge, as they are responsible for the vast majority of grazing and browsing. Each herd is evaluated to determine the number of animals which can be maintained by the Refuge due to the limited availability of forage.

Wildlife management on the Refuge extends far beyond management of these "big four" species. Endangered species, non-game species, and fisheries are integral components of the overall management scheme.

The efforts to perpetuate the major species of wildlife once imperiled have been amply rewarded. The big game herds have increased many-fold and no longer are in danger. The major goal of big game herd management has changed from one of assuring the perpetuation of an endangered species to one which calls for the maintenance of representative herds, with numbers in keeping with good range use practices.

Fisheries management on the Refuge consists of aquatic vegetation monitoring and control, surveying fish species, periodic fish stocking in selected lakes, and the provision of a quality fishing experience for the public.