Many of America’s rarest wildlife species — including ocelots, whooping cranes, Atlantic sturgeon and Hawksbill sea turtles — depend on national wildlife refuges for survival.
A refuge’s protected lands and waters often provide ideal feeding and nesting conditions for a rare species. Refuge staff work to improve those conditions by recovering habitat and controlling invasive species that may compete for space and resources.
Many of the more than 560 national wildlife refuges were established primarily to provide habitat for species designated as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Florida was established to protect the federally threatened Florida manatee, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. (Photo: Keith Ramos/USFWS)
National wildlife refuges also protect many species of rare plants such as evening primrose, found at Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in California. (Photo: John Rusk, Creative Commons)
National wildlife refuges in Florida and the Caribbean conserve critical habitat for endangered sea turtles such as this Hawksbill sea turtle. (Photo: Caroline S. Rogers/Courtesy of NOAA)
The largest wild bird in North America, the endangered California condor depends on habitat preserved at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge in California. (Photo: USFWS)
Learn more about threatened and endangered species. Use the link to check the status and geographic location of an individual animal or plant species.
Some refuges established as habitat for rare species:
- Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas (whooping crane)
- Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, Florida (green sea turtle)
- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (Porcupine caribou, Polar bear)
- Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, Maine (Canada lynx)
- Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, Texas (Attwater prairie chicken)
- Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana (Gulf sturgeon)
- Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Florida (American crocodile)
- Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Florida (Florida manatee)
- Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer, Oregon and Washington
- Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge (Florida panther)
- Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, Florida (green sea turtle)
- Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, California (California condor)
- Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii (Hawaiian monk seal)
- Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, Idaho (woodland caribou)
- Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge (Mississippi sandhill crane)
- Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada (Moapa dace)
- National Key Deer Refuge, Florida (Key deer)
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