Southwest Region
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Southwest Region Highlights HotTopics
Lesser prairie chicken. Andrew J. Lawrence

Lesser prairie chicken. Credit: Andrew J. Lawrence.

Petitions to Federally Protect the Lesser Prairie-Chicken, Increase Protections for Leopard Move Forward to Next Review Phase

November 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed initial reviews of three Endangered Species Act petitions and found that two present substantial information that the petitioned action may be warranted. A petition to list the lesser prairie-chicken as endangered and another to list the leopard as endangered throughout its range in Africa will move to the next phase, where each species will undergo a thorough status review. 

Read additional information on the Lesser prairie chicken


Young hunters Justin, Willow and Woodrow carry forward their hunting heritage.

Young hunters Justin, Willow and Woodrow carry forward their hunting heritage. Credit: John Bradley, USFWS.

Carrying Forward a Hunting Heritage

November 2016
Young hunters Justin, Willow and Woodrow carry forward their hunting heritage. Leading their fathers, they hunt Mearns quail in the San Mateo Mountains of New Mexico.

Hunters are integral in conservation’s cycle of success: they pay taxes on firearms and ammunition that fund biological research and habitat management by state conservation agencies via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR).

The WSFR Program has a profound influence on conservation, the economy and outdoor pursuits. In 2016, $123,356,617 was available to the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas for fish and wildlife management.

For more about Hunter Education through the WSFR program, visit the Hunter Education website.

To learn more about hunting opportunities, visit your state's game and fish department web site.


Pronghorn credit: james Atkinson, USFWS.

Sonoran pronghorn. Credit: James Atkinson, USFWS.

Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Plan Has Been Revised

November 2016
The plan guiding conservation efforts and setting recovery goals for the endangered Sonoran pronghorn has been revised.  The impetus for revising the 1998 Sonoran Pronghorn Recovery Plan revision was new information obtained on Sonoran pronghorn, new identified threats to the species, and new management efforts in the U.S. and Mexico.
In 2002, a drought-induced crash of the U.S. Sonoran pronghorn population marshalled our partners to aggressively respond to threats and initiate a captive breeding program to bolster populations. We realized that in addition to intensifying recovery efforts in the U.S., the importance of close collaboration with Mexico is essential.  This binational plan is an achievable path for securing and fully recovering this emblematic species.

Learn more...
Read the Recovery Plan
Learn more about the Pronghorn


Sandhill cranes at Bosque del Apache NWR Sandhill cranes at Bosque del Apache NWR. Credit: USFWS.

Festival of the Cranes Gearing Up To Be Biggest Yet

November 2016
The 2016 Festival of the Cranes is set to be one of the biggest ever. The six day event offers tours, hikes, workshops, vendors, a photo contest, family fun activities, and much more. The Festival is held at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, one of the premier bird and wildlife watching spots in the country. This year’s festival runs from November 15-20 and coincides with the spectacular fall bird migration through central New Mexico. The Festival offers something for everyone and is a great family outing.

Access more Festival information...

Learn more about Bosque del Apache NWR.


Cancer Survivors Find Refuge in Nature

November 2016
Battling cancer is no easy feat. The disease is tenacious and can wreak havoc not only on the body, but the mind and spirit as well. Recently, a group of cancer survivors found a place where they rediscovered their courage, their confidence, and their spirit. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge lies in an ancient mountain range in southwest Oklahoma. Established in 1901 to protect wildlife species that were in grave danger of extinction and to restore species that had been eliminated from the area, today American bison, Rocky Mountain elk, wild turkey, river otters and nearly 400 other species of fish and wildlife call the Refuge home. The Refuge also offers a sundry of outdoor recreational activities that range from wildlife watching to hiking to rock climbing making it the perfect place to host the first Resilience Nature Retreat for Cancer Survivors. Six women at different stages of their cancer journeys came together for a three day retreat at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge to face challenges, meet new friends, and to experience the healing power of nature. 

Learn more about their life changing adventure in this informative video.

Read more about cancer survivors in nature.


Ashlie Peterson holds a razorback Ashlie Peterson from the Southwestern Fish Health Unit holds a razorback. Credit: Craig Springer, USFWS.

Robust Fish at the Southwest Region Hatcheries

November 2016
Every effort is made to ensure that fish brought into national fish hatcheries—and the fish going out—are robust and disease-free. Toward that goal, Marlene Rodarte and Ashlie Peterson, fisheries biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center – Fish Heath Lab recently collected razorback sucker and rainbow trout tissues for the annual exam at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery. The two scientists own a combined 42 years of experience in fish health, and laboratory practices. They are two among a staff of six fish health biologists at Southwestern ARRC, led by a doctor of veterinary medicine, Martha Keller.

Read more about fish health.





Deputy Director Jim Kurth addresses the crowd Service Deputy Director Jim Kurth addresses the crowd." Credit: Stacey Garcia, USFWS.

Foundations for a Strong Conservation Future

October 2016
This week managers from national wildlife refuges, national fish hatcheries, and ecological services offices around the Southwest Region gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico to continue to build a strong foundation for conservation. Coming together, these leaders learned from one another and shared conservation challenges, imaginative ideas ,innovative solutions, and keys to success. These leaders will guide the Service and it's wildlife conservation mission into the future.


willow beach nfh ceremony

Dr. Benjamin Tuggle cuts the ribbon at the Willow Beach NFH ceremony. Credit: George Andrejko/ADGF.

Partners Celebrate Return of Rainbow Trout to Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, Arizona

October 2016
Anglers rejoice, rainbow trout are back at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery (NFH). After a three-year hiatus, the popular sport fish swims in the shaded raceways at the federal fisheries facility located on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, 12 miles downstream of Hoover Dam.

The fish were welcomed back in a partnership celebration held at the NFH, October 20, 2016.

“Our partnerships will pay dividends for the community and for conservation,” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director of the Service’s Southwest Region, remarking to a crowd gathered near a recently installed pump that delivers cold water to the NFH. “Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery once again fulfills its dual role of conserving endangered fishes, and serving the angling public. Tribal partners along the lower Colorado River, and the larger community that depends on recreational activities in the area also benefit.”

Willow Beach NFH was built in 1959, and part of the aged water supply structures failed in 2013, ceasing rainbow trout production. Through the collaborations of the Service, Mohave County, National Park Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, with the support of the Arizona congressional delegation, a floating platform that houses pumps was engineered and built. It now delivers cold water to the NFH that trout require.

On July 26, 2016, the Service oversaw successful testing of the newly installed floating pipeline and pumps. A final inspection conducted on August 4, 2016, ensured the system was fully operational. Ten days later the Arizona Game and Fish Department delivered 51,000 rainbow trout to Willow Beach NFH. The Service will raise the trout until they are large enough to be released in area waters. Rainbow trout eggs will arrive this fall, and the hatchery will return to its former and familiar routine of raising trout from that earliest stage.


Endangered Razorback Sucker at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

October 2016
Raising endangered razorback sucker at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery in Arizona requires recirculating well water. Biologist Heidi Stream tells us about an innovative way the water is kept clean for the health of the fish.

Watch the video.


 FWS's Joy Nicholopoulos (center) signs the Pima County MSCP implementation agreement, together with (L-to-R) Supervisor Ray Carol, Administrator Chuck Huckleberry, Congressman Raul Grijalva and Supervisor Sharon Bronson.  Credit: USFWS.

Pima County Celebrates Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan

October 2016
Pima County​
Arizona and Its Wildlife are Celebrating ..and for good reason. The County and the USFWS today sign a Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan that implements smart development and conservation in the county. The county’s in-depth plan was born from years of community involvement to determine what cultural and natural resources they hold dear, and the economy and development they seek. Their thoughtful, award-winning planning, together with local taxpayer support for their treasured and unique Sonoran wildlife and habitats, has made the County a national model for community planning and conservation.

Learn more about the Pima County MSCP
Watch the Pima County Scenes and Species Video
Watch the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan Video


Monarch butterfly

The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable wildlife species in the world. Credit:Brett Billings, USFWS.


Have You Heard The Buzz?
Texas Adds Second Monarch Butterfly Champion City!

October 2016
The Lone Star State is full of champions, just ask a monarch butterfly! McAllen, Texas has just become the second Monarch Butterfly Champion City in the nation, behind San Antonio, Texas. To become a Champion City, the city’s Mayor must sign the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge and commit to all 24 action items recommended to increase habitat for monarchs and other pollinators.

Inspired by the city of San Antonio, city of McAllen Mayor Jim Darling recognized the vital role Texas plays in saving the monarch butterfly. Monarchs and other pollinators are in steep decline posing risks to our food production and our own health. Learn how city of McAllen is helping monarchs and what you can do to save the Monarch.

Learn more...
Read the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge
Save the Monarch



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee Don Wilhelm helps volunteers plant the Monarch Waystation. Credit: Katie Boyer, USFWS.

Interstate 35 Not Just For Motorists Anymore

October 2016
Rest stops along America’s intricate interstate highway system have long provided weary travelers with places of rest, comfort, refreshment, and even beauty. And now rest stops along a stretch of I-35 in Texas are not only attracting motorists, they are attracting monarch butterflies. Thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Native Plant Society of Texas, and Texas Department of Transportation these rest areas now host “Monarch Waystations”. The waystations provide essential habitat for monarchs including native milkweed and flowering plants for food, rest, and reproduction. Waystations can be planted anywhere, including your own backyard!

Read about the Monarch Waystation Program
Lear more about the Save the Monarch


Tribal Monarch group for the workshop

Southwest Regional Director Dr. Benjamin N. Tuggle, center, with members of the Laguna
Pueblo and Hopi Tribe StarTrail Dance Group. (Credit: Joe Early, USFWS.









Inter-Tribal Monarch Butterfly Workshop

October 2016
An Inter-Tribal Monarch Conservation Workshop for southwest tribes was held at Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico where 44 participants representing 15 different tribes attended. The workshop included two days of presentations discussing monarchs and pollinators, federal agency programs and actions that are concentrated on pollinators, plant/seed availability and propagation for pollinators, and funding opportunities for restoration with pollinators in mind.

On Friday, five small pollinator gardens were installed and participants were able to plant native milkweed and other plants that were acquired from Santa Ana Pueblo's native plant nursery. By Friday afternoon, there were actual monarch butterfly sightings near the gardens.

The highlight of the workshop was a traditional butterfly dance from the Laguna Pueblo and Hopi Tribe StarTrail Dance Group. The butterfly dance is a petition for rain, good health, and long life for all living things. The dance also recognizes the butterfly for its beauty and contribution in pollinating plant life. Following the dance, a traditional "grab" day activity was held during which the dance group and Regional Native American Liaison tossed traditional Pueblo baked goods, assorted foods, small gifts and water, all with prayers and and well wishes for the participants and for all the land, animals and natural resources.


black-capped vireo

Black-capped vireo. Credit: Gil Eckrich, USFWS.

Bird Calls: Ft. Hood an Unlikely Haven for Black-capped Vireo

October 2016
In Texas, the black-capped vireo and golden-cheeked warbler, two federally listed species, benefit from the collaborative conservation efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the U.S. Army's Fort Hood. For almost a quarter century, the Service and Fort Hood have worked together to help recover the birds while ensuring that military training continues. Thank you to the American Bird Conservancy for sharing this story.

Read the entire article


Family strolls together on refuge.

Refuges are a great place for a family hike. Creeditr: USFWS.




Time For Discovery

October 2016
Work, school, appointments, sports, yard work, housework …it all adds up to busy schedules. Now days it is even more important to take time for new discoveries and new adventures and that is exactly what awaits you at your nearby national wildlife refuge.  National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 9-15, is the perfect time to discover the wonders of wildlife and the incredible places where they live.   Spectacular wildlife, endless landscapes, and amazing outdoor recreation fun are closer than you think.   

Find Your Refuge

Connect with us on Facebook 



Louisiana pinesnake. Credit Michael Sealy, USFWS.

Louisiana Pinesnake Proposed to be Added as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act

October 2016
The Louisiana pinesnake, a large, non-venomous snake now found only in isolated areas of Louisiana and Texas, is being proposed for listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

At the same time, the Service is seeking ideas and comments on activities that should be considered for inclusion in an upcoming list of activities that would be exempted from any impacts of this proposed action under the ESA’s Section 4d. It’s an opportunity for the Service to hear from private landowners, timber companies, conservation groups and anyone interested in our work to protect the Louisiana pinesnake and to keep working lands working.

Publication of the proposed listing rule begins a 60-day comment period, public comments should be submitted by December 5, 2016. The complete proposed rule can be obtained by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal: at Docket Number FWS–R4–ES–2016–0121.

Read the News Release.
Read the FAQs.


Mrs Bush supports monarchs

Mrs. Bush gets ready to make milkweed seed balls to disperse to create new habitat for monarchs. Credit: Grant Miller.

Former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush Creates a Buzz for Monarchs

September 2016
This week Mrs. Laura Bush, former First Lady and founder of Texan by Nature, joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and multiple other conservation partners in Austin, Texas to celebrate the fall the migration of monarch butterflies and to announce new collaborations in the state’s efforts to conserve pollinators and their habitats in Texas.

Mrs. Bush is asking you to join her in monarch and pollinator conservation by creating habitat in the places we work, play, worship, and live.

Read the news release.
Learn more about Monarchs
Learn about the Monarch Wrangler program.

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow a Marker for Conservation

September 2016
The minnow shines like sterling is as much New Mexican as are the mountains that frame what is left of its habitat. To thrive, the minnow needs a mix of slow-moving shallow pools as nursery habitats and steady mainstream flows to grow and spawn to maturity. Until there is enough suitable habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must help fill in the gaps.​

Read the rest of what Assistant Regional Director, Stewart Jacks has to say about the Rio Grande silvery minnow in the Endangered Species Bulletin.​


orangutan skull

Orangutan skull. Credit: USFWS.

Anderson Man Sentenced for Smuggling Orangutan Skulls

September 2016

VICTORIA, Texas - A professional reptile breeder has entered a guilty plea to smuggling two orangutan skulls into the country from Indonesia, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Southwest Region Special Agent in Charge Nicholas E. Chavez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Graham Scott Criglow, 39, pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey today. Criglow was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and must serve three years of probation.

Read more about the case.


Sky Island habitats of Guadalupe fescue, Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park

Sky Island habitats of Guadalupe fescue, Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park. Credit: Chris Best, USFWS.

Service Proposes to Protect Guadalupe Fescue Under the Endangered Species Act
Service is Working with National Park Service and Mexico to Conserve West Texas plant

September 2016
The high mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas and the State of Coahuila, Mexico are home to Guadalupe fescue, a short-lived perennial grass species. Only two populations are known to exist, one in the Chisos Mountains within Big Bend National Park and one in the Maderas del Carmen Mountains in northern Mexico.

The Service is proposing to list Guadalupe fescue as endangered and designate critical habitat within Big Bend National Park. The proposals will be available in the Federal Register Reading room on Thursday, September 8th and will publish in the Federal Register on Friday, September 9th. Public comments will be accepted through November 8, 2016. Additional information on Guadalupe fescue and the proposals are available at

Read the News Release
Read the FAQs
Read the Federal Register Notice on the Proposed Listing
Read the Federal Register Notice on Proposed Critical Habitat


Houston toad

Houston toad. Credit: Paige Najvar, USFWS.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Evaluating Safe Harbor Agreement for the Houston Toad

August 2016
The Service is publishing a Notice of Availability of a draft Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement for the Houston toad submitted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and draft environmental assessment. The Agreement would facilitate conservation actions by interested landowners that could assist in the recovery of the Houston toad, listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The Houston toad is a small, greenish-brown, speckled amphibian that can be distinguished from other toads by its unique high-pitched, trill-sounding call that males emit during breeding choruses each spring. It was one of the first amphibians federally listed as an endangered species and is listed as endangered by the State of Texas. The Houston toad occurs mostly on privately owned property in nine Texas counties including Austin, Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Milam, and Robertson.

The Notice will be available in the Federal Register Reading room on Friday, August 26th and will publish in the Federal Register on Monday, August 29th. Public comments will be accepted through October 28th.

Read additional information on the Houston toad and the draft Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement.
Read the News Release
Read the FAQs
Read the Federal Register Notice

Southwest Region Archived News Releases

Search additional archived news releases for the Southwest Region

Wildlife Selfies
Southwest Emphasis Areas
Youth and Students
Women's History in the FWS
We recognize women in our ranks who work to conserve our natural resources in the Southwest Region. Check back to read more about extraordinary women in conservation.
Learn more...
Our Stories
R2 LE Agent Receives Honor Award
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The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognizes two of our employees
Learn more...

Science Leadership Award
Grant Harris receives recognition for scientific leadership
Learn more...
Southwest Region's Wounded Warriors
There are eight Wounded Warriors who have joined our ranks.
Learn more...
Two New Refuges
Two new refuges in the Southwest Region are the 559th and 560th refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Learn more...
Last updated: November 29, 2016