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Southwest Region Highlights HotTopics
Rescued eaglet. Credit: Chuck Ardizzone, USFWS.

Teen Arrested in Connection with Shooting Death of Bald Eagle
Surviving eaglet rescued from nest

February 2017
On February 22, 2017, an American bald eagle was shot in north Harris County, Texas, near White Oak Bayou. The eagle was one of two adult eagles that have actively nested in this area for several years.

A tip about the possible shooting of an eagle led Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents, and Harris County sheriff’s deputies to an area in north Harris County. The eagle carcass was recovered and following a brief investigation an arrest made.

Read the entire news release.



Montana Man Indicted for Smuggling Protected Wildlife Items, Including Bald and Golden Eagle Feathers, into the United States

February 2017
Dennis Raymond McPherron of Hamilton, MT has been charged with illegally smuggling items made from protected wildlife, including bald and golden eagle feathers, into the United States. A one-count indictment charging McPherron was returned by a federal grand jury on February 15, 2017.

Acting U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Elizabeth A. Strange, and Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nicholas E. Chavez, made the announcement.

According to the indictment, McPherron was caught smuggling protected wildlife items into the U.S. at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, AZ. According to investigators, McPherron was caught in possession of 220 feathers, from which the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory determined the origins as: a minimum of eight individual Northern Flickers, four endangered Military Macaws, one Bald Eagle, one Golden Eagle, one Crested Caracara, one Greater Roadrunner, one Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, one Scarlet Macaw, one unspecified toucan, and one unspecified cockatoo. 

Read the entire news release.


Pollinator garden. Credit: K. Whaley, USFWS.

Learn To Design a Home Pollinator Garden

January 2017
You can help monarchs and a variety of other pollinators by creating a pollinator garden in your own backyard. The Native Plant Society of New Mexico is offering a workshop to help you design and create your very own pollinator garden!

WHAT: Pollinator Habitat Landscape Design Workshop

WHEN: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11

WHERE: UNM Continuing Education Conference Center, 1634 University NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico

HOW MUCH: $55. For information and registration, go to

Learn more about this event.

Learn more about Monarch butterflies.


Filipino jewelry. Credit: Office of Law Enforcement, USFWS.

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Five In Connection With International Scheme To Fraudulently Import And Sell Filipino-Made Jewelry As Native American-Made
Second Indictment Resulting from Continuing Investigation into Alleged Violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act

January 2017
ALBUQUERQUE – A federal grand jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., returned an indictment on Tuesday charging five individuals with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by conspiring to import and fraudulently sell Filipino-made jewelry as Native American-made. This is the second indictment filed as the result of a continuing federal investigation that began in Jan. 2015 and is led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the assistance of the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The investigation targeted an international scheme to violate the IACA and has included the execution of eight search and seizure warrants and investigative activity in New Mexico, California, Alaska, Kentucky, Nevada and the Philippines.

Learn more...


Livers of the Rivers:
Proactive Stakeholder Collaboration Aims To Benefit Freshwater Mussels in Texas

January 2017
Freshwater mussels may lack charisma, as they look like nothing more than rocks. But that belies the natural wonders of their life-history and their incredibly important role in the ecology of streams and the people and economies that rely on the same water. Work getting underway in Texas holds promise for mussels in most need.

Learn more...


Credit: DC Booth History National Fish Hatchery and Archive.

Happy 146th Birthday

Janaury 2017
Robert Roosevelt, uncle to the conservationist-president, Teddy Roosevelt, was a prodigious writer. He authored such books as Fish Hatching and Fish Catching, Game Birds of the Northern States of America, and Superior Fishing. His most enduring work was a Congressional resolution authored during his single term in the U.S. House of Representatives—the resolution that created the U.S. Fish Commission in the Grant Administration. The Commission became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and today's Fish and Aquatic Conservation program. The resolution became effective Feburary 9, 1871.

Photo above: San Marcos National Fish Hatchery pictured above is among the oldest fisheries facilities in the Southwest Region. It was established in 1892 on the campus of Texas State University and moved a short distance to its current location in 1974. Renamed the San Marcos Aquatic Resources Center, scientists there research and conserve rare and imperiled aquatic organisms. Credit: DC Booth History National Fish Hatchery and Archive

Read the resolution that created the U.S. Fish Commission in the Grant Administration.


Brazos River crossing removal. Credit: USFWS.

Brazos River Crossing Removal Helps Two Endangered Fish Species

January 2017
The Brazos River is the largest river between the Rio Grande and the Red River in Texas. Originating in New Mexico, the Brazos River runs approximately 810 miles from West Texas to coastal Texas. A road crossing in Kent County was installed on the river in 2009 to service the energy industry located on the north side of the river. After several flood events, the river crossing was acting more like a dam than a bridge, by backing up water and cutting off potential migration access for fish.

In late November 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program, in coordination with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sharp Image Energy Inc. and private landowners worked together to improve the water flows in the river by removing the river crossing. Thanks to this collaborative project, two endangered fish species, the smalleye and sharpnose shiners, have at least another 17 miles of unobstructed habitat in the Brazos River. The sharpnose and smalleye shiners depend on long unobstructed stretches of river for spawning and will now be able to move farther upstream with no barriers. Removal of the river crossing will provide a natural river flow and a reduction in stilt trapping and hopefully improve the reproductive success of the two shiners in this area of the Brazos River.

Access additional information on the smalleye and sharpnose shiners .


San Marcos salamander. Credit: USFWS.
Service Seeking Information on Salamanders Missing From the San Marcos Aquatic Resource Center

Janaury 2017
San Marcos, TX - On November 25, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement in San Antonio was made aware that 253 Texas Blind Salamanders and 110 San Marcos Salamanders  were missing from the San Marcos Aquatic Resource Center located at 500 North McCarthy, San Marcos, TX.  Texas Blind and San Marcos salamanders are both protected under the Endangered Species Act and Texas state law.

The Service is seeking information regarding the missing salamanders and offering a reward in the amount of $10,000 for information related to this case. The reward will be issued if the missing salamanders are determined to be a criminal act and the information provided leads to the criminal conviction of the person(s) responsible. Anyone with information about the missing salamanders is urged to come forward. Information can be provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s San Antonio Office of Law Enforcement at (210) 681-8419 or Operation Game Thief at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). Callers may remain anonymous.

Learn more...


2016 Rachel Carson Award for Exemplary Scientific Accomplishment
Grand Canyon Humpback Chub Team, Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office
Rick Deshler, Michael Pillow, Dennis Stone, Randy Van Haverbeke, Jim Walters, and Kirk Young

January 2017
Grand Canyon Humpback Chub Team coThe Little Colorado River within the Grand Canyon is home to the largest and most viable of six populations of humpback chub (Gila cypha), an endangered fish native to the Colorado River basin. However, since the early 2000s, the Little Colorado River population has declined to less than 2,000 adults, primarily due to habitat loss from the construction of large dams and reservoirs throughout the basin and predation by nonnative fish.

Learn more about the conservation work of this team.


American burying beetle. Credit: Jay Pruett.
Service Announces Public Scoping Process For American Electric Power’s Proposed Conservation Plan for the American Burying Beetle
Project Covers 62 Counties in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas

January 2017
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing that American Electric Power is developing a Habitat Conservation Plan to address impacts to the American burying beetle that may result from the construction and operation of transmission and distribution lines in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. The draft Habitat Conservation Plan would accompany American Electric Power’s request for an Incidental Take Permit. The Service will prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) to evaluate the impacts associated with issuing an Incidental Take Permit.

The Notice will publish in the Federal Register on Thursday, January 19th. Publication of the Notice begins a 30-day comment period that runs through February 21, 2017. Four scoping meetings will be held during the public comment period. Please see the full News Bulletin for additional information.

Learn more...



Rainbow trout. Credit: Craig Springer, USFWS.
Rainbow Trout Stocking Restarts at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

January 2017
After a three-year hiatus, catchable-sized rainbow trout from Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery returned to Colorado River waters downstream of Las Vegas.




New Mexico Man Pleaded Guilty to Violating the MBTA

January 2017
Wayne Martin pleaded guilty violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by selling three hawks without permission. Mr. martin is a member and resident of Cochiti Pueblo, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  The guilty plea was entered without the benefit of a plea agreement.
For more information read the press release.


Top to bottom: Kuenzler bloom and gypsum wild-buckwheat.
Status of Two Protected Southern New Mexico Plants Improves

January 2017
There are more known populations of Gypsum wild-buckwheat and Kuenzler hedgehog cactus now than when first protected under the Endangered Species Act four decades ago. When first listed, only one population of each plant was known. The discovery of additional populations, together with efforts to conserve the plants and their habitat indicate significant strides have been made in their conservation. As a result, we’ve determined that the Gypsum wild-buckwheat is recovered and are proposing to remove it from the list of plants protected under the Act, and to reclassify the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus from “endangered” to “threatened.”

Learn more...

Photos at left are top to bottom: Kuenzler Bloom. Credit: Frank Weaver, USFWS; Gypsum wild-buckwheat. Credit: Frank Weaver, USFWS.





Lesser long-nosed bat.

Lesser long-nosed bat. Credit: Bat Conservation International, Bruce Taubert.

Endangered Southwest Bat’s Recovery Advances -- Proposed for Delisting
Bat-friendly tequila, research, citizen science play key roles bringing species back from the brink

January 2017
At a time when news about bats is generally bad, the lesser long-nosed bat is bucking the trend. The story of how this southwestern pollinator recovered from historic lows to the point where it could today be proposed for removal from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife exemplifies the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in driving collaborative conservation.

Learn more...
Read more about the Lesser long-nosed bat.

Service and Binational Team Draft a Path to Recover the Jaguar

December 2016
Together with the binational Jaguar Recovery Team, we have completed a draft recovery plan for the jaguar. The draft plan sets goals for improving the species’ status through its entire 19-country range and provides a framework for achieving recovery. The draft plan focuses on the cat’s northwestern population in Mexico and the southwestern United States – setting more precise goals and site-specific conservation actions whereby that population can most effectively rebound and contribute to the entire species’ recovery.

Learn more...
Read the Full Draft Recovery plan
More jaguar photos 


black-capped vireo Black-capped vireo. Photo by Gil Eckrich.
Three Decades of Conservation Efforts Lead to Recovery, Proposed Delisting of Texas, Oklahoma Songbird
Almost extinct in the 1980s, the black-capped vireo’s dramatic recovery a result of ESA-driven partnerships and conservation

December 2016
In the late 1980s the future for the black-capped vireo, a striking songbird that breeds only in Oklahoma and Texas and northernmost Mexico, looked bleak. Only about 350 birds were known to survive in a few locations. Following the bird’s listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1987, the Service began working with the states of Oklahoma and Texas, the U.S. Army, private landowners and non-governmental organizations to protect and recover the vireo. There are now more than 5,200 known birds and more than 14,000 estimated across their breeding range. Thanks to the dedication and perseverance of our partners, the Service is able to announce that we are proposing to delist the black-capped vireo from the ESA due to recovery.

The Service is requesting comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning the delisting proposal. Comments must be received within 60 days, on or before February 13, 2017. You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: In the Search box, enter FWS-R2-ES-2016-0110 which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”

(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2016-0110; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

Additional information on the black-capped vireo and the proposal is available at



 gives WMAT award to Chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe

Ronnie Lupe, Chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe holds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Partnership Award presented by Southwest Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle. Photo by USFWS.

WMAT Award Presentation

December 2016
Ronnie Lupe, Chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe accepts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Partnership Award on behalf of the Tribe from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle. The award cited the Tribe's exceptional leadership and commitment as a partner in the Mexican wolf recovery program. “I deeply appreciate the men and women whose efforts and dedication that have made the White Mountain Apache Tribe's Homeland a model of conservation excellence,” said Dr. Tuggle.




Gila Trout
A Gila trout stocked in Mineral Creek on the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. Credit:  Craig Springer, USFWS.

Story Spotlight: Mogollon Emphasis Area
Conservation Priority: Restoration of Aquatic Resources

December 2016
Once listed as Endangered, the now Threatened Gila trout is making a comeback along the Mogollon Rim. Read how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working across boundaries with multiple partners to return this fish to its native waters.





Reach Award recipients

Staff from Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge accept the Award. Credit: Kenny Sumberlin.

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge Wins Prestigious Reach Award

December 2016
Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge near Houston, Texas received the prestigious Reach Award at the Houston-Galveston Area Council's Our Great Region Awards for its work in creating the From Crosswalks to Boardwalks initiative. The Reach Award honors a project which demonstrates exemplary public participation. Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge has worked with nearly 300 volunteers who contributed more than 3,000 volunteer hours to create a hiking, biking, and paddling system designed to get people from the crosswalks of the City of Liberty, Texas to the wetland boardwalks of Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers, both local and nationwide, have made the project possible by building trailheads, kiosks, benches, trails, and boardwalks during meaningful public service oriented projects. And they are still creating more!
The Houston-Galveston Area Council created the Our Great Region Awards in order to recognize and congratulate the wealth of outstanding local projects in the arenas of transportation, environment, economic development, resiliency, housing, and healthy communities.

Learn more...
Visit the refuge...


Black capped vireo by Greg Lasley

The black-capped vireo is one of the many species that will benefit from the new habitat. Credit: Greg Lasley.

Peaceful Springs Added to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

December 2016
520 acres of important wildlife habitat has been added to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge near Austin, Texas. The property, known as Peaceful Springs, will provide habitat for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo along with a myriad of other wildlife including the monarch butterfly. The Refuge is a designated Important Bird Area and is also one of 14 national wildlife refuges where professional land managers and others come to learn about cutting-edge habitat management techniques and technology.

Read article...
Learn more about Balcones Canyonlands




Rio Grande near Sevilleta NWR

Rio Grande near Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Save Our Bosque Task Force.

Efforts to Protect Endangered Species in the Middle Rio Grande Continue with Renewed Commitments from Key Water Management Agencies

December 2016
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed and provided a new biological opinion to the Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the State of New Mexico, providing Endangered Species Act coverage for water-related activities in the Upper and Middle Rio Grande. 

The Rio Grande is one of the most important natural resources in the state of New Mexico.  

“This Biological Opinion recognizes the core management elements that are necessary to sustain and ultimately recover populations of silvery minnows. The Biological Opinion is based on years of experimentation, rigorous science, and adaptive management strategies that will balance and meet human water needs while supporting wildlife conservation,” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, the Service’s Southwest Regional Director.  “The substantial conservation commitments made by the Middle Rio Grande Partners will significantly improve the status of the silvery minnow, flycatcher and cuckoo.” 

Learn more...


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.


Wintering whooping cranes flying over Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS.
Jefferson County Man Sentenced for Killing Whooping Cranes

October 2016
A 19-year-old Beaumont, Texas man has been sentenced for federal wildlife violations in the Eastern District of Texas announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. Trey Joseph Frederick pleaded guilty on May 23, 2016 to a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and was sentenced to five years of federal probation today by U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn. As part of his probation, Frederick is prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, ammunition or any other dangerous weapon. He is also prohibited from hunting or fishing anywhere in the United States.

For more information read the press release.


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

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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
Division of Human Resources Shines! 

The Division of Human Resources (HR) in the Southwest Region, who also serves the Southeast Region, was recognized today by Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle for their outstanding work over the past several months. 
Learn more...

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
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Science Leadership Award
Grant Harris receives recognition for scientific leadership
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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: February 24, 2017