Southwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America
Southwest Region USFWS facebook page Southwest Region USFWS page Southwest region USFWS Flikr page USFWS YouTube site
Bees and butterflies on flower
Southwest Region Highlights HotTopics

Willow Springer walks back to her turkey blind beneath a Fremont cottonwood at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge awards by lottery a limited number of turkey licenses each spring, for youth only. Credit: Craig Springer, USFWS.

The Art of the Hunt

May 2018
Across the expanse of the field, a turkey gobbles from a roost tree similar in shape and size to the tree we use for cover. In short order, the fresh light reveals two flocks of wild turkeys on the ground in the distance. Toms and jakes puff their chests and fan their tails. These birds are keen—genetically coded—to be aware of their vulnerabilities. Conservationist Aldo Leopold said that hunting revives something that was formerly inherent in our daily lives.

Read the entire story...

 

 

Tobusch fishhook cactus. Credit: Chris Best, USFWS.
Tobusch fishhook cactus. Credit: Chris Best, USFWS.
Collaborative Conservation Efforts Put Once Near Extinct Texas Cactus on Path to Recovery, Prompt Change in Federal Protected Status

May 2018
In 1979 with fewer than 200 plants known to exist, the Tobusch fishhook cactus was thought to be almost extinct. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of multiple partners including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Land Conservancy, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, The Nature Conservancy and central Texas landowners, today more than 3,300 cactuses are known to exist at 105 sites across the Edwards Plateau area of Texas. As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is downlisting the cactus from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Read the news release.
Read additional information at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/.

 

Kuenzler hedgehog cactus. Credit: Frank Weaver/USFWS. Kuenzler hedgehog cactus. Credit: Frank Weaver/USFWS.
Southern New Mexico Cactus Improves; Extinction No Longer Imminent
Service reclassifies Kuenzler hedgehog cactus as “threatened”

May 2018
When first listed under the Endangered Species Act, only 200 Kuenzler hedgehog cacti were known from two southeastern New Mexico locations. But the discovery of additional populations, together with efforts to conserve the plant and its habitat, indicate the small, magenta-flowered cactus is no longer at near-term risk of extinction. As a result, the we are downlisting the Kuenzler hedgehog cactus from “endangered” to “threatened.”

Read the News Release
Read the Downlisting Rule

 

Dr. Shannon Brewer with Oklahoma State University Ph.D. candidate Andrew Miller holds a radio tagged Neosho smallmouth bass. Research was funded by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. Credit: OSU.
Dr. Shannon Brewer with Oklahoma State University Ph.D. candidate Andrew Miller holds a radio tagged Neosho smallmouth bass. Research was funded by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. Credit: OSU.
Radios Reveal Wandering Habits of Smallmouth Bass in Oklahoma
Angler-funded research lends greater understanding of one of America’s greatest sport fish

April 2018
About the time that redbuds flash their pretty pinkish blooms on eastern Oklahoma’s hillsides and gray streamside sycamores unfurl their fresh leaves the color akin to a wet lime, there’s something curious going on. And it goes mostly sight unseen.

Read the full story...

 

 

 

 

 

California Man Arraigned on Federal Indictment Charging him with Scheme to Fraudulently Create and Sell Jewelry as Native American-Made Trade

April 2018
Robert Haack, 51, of Los Angeles, Calif., was arraigned on April 27, 2018 on a federal indictment charging him with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by fraudulently creating and selling jewelry as Native American-made. The indictment, which was filed by a federal grand jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 28, 2018, was the result of a federal investigation led by the U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement.

Read the News Release


 

A Green-winged teal with reflection swimming. Green-winged teal. Credit: Peter Pearsall/USFWS.
Secretary Zinke Announces Grants to Boost to Wetland, Waterfowl Conservation, Access to Public Lands

April 2018
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, approved $24.6 million in grants for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to conserve, enhance or restore more than 176,000 acres of lands for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds in 18 states. The commission also approved more than $9.8 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve 5,628 acres on national wildlife refuges and open thousands of additional acres for public hunting and recreational access.

Read the News Release »
Learn More about North American Wetlands Conservation Act»

 

A youngster attending the 2018 EarthX event, spreads her arms next to the Oklahoma Wildlife Refuges trailer. Credit: USFWS.
A youngster attending the 2018 EarthX event, spreads her arms next to the Oklahoma Wildlife Refuges trailer. Credit: USFWS.
2018 EarthX Event

April 2018
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region participated in the 2018 Earth X event at Fair Park during Earth Day Weekend. The event was a huge success thanks to the support of many including the Southwest Regional Office, the Arlington Ecological Services Field Office, Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery and the Southwest Region National Wildlife Refuge Program that was represented by Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge, Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and the Washita/Optima National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The family-friendly three day event attracts more than 100,000 people and more than 700 exhibitors annually.

Read more...

Ruby-throated hummingbird on cardinal flower. Credit: Bill Buchanan, USFWS.
Ruby-throated hummingbird on cardinal flower. Credit: Bill Buchanan, USFWS.

Illegal Hummingbird Trade

April 2018
Hummingbirds are critically important pollinators, found only in the Americas. Their center of origin is in the tropics, and there are 18 species that migrate into the US. They can live for up to 12 years or more, and tend to return to the same places, they are quite intelligent, and teach their young how to return to locations and forage for nectar in the same areas. The hummingbird family, Trochilidae, was listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1987, including an estimated 328 species. Appendix II allows commercial trade, but the species must be accompanied by a permit that signifies it was obtained sustainably and legally. The CITES listing (read the CITES listing at https://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/cop/06/prop/proposals/E06-Prop-32_Trochilidae.PDF ) was proposed by Ecuador because of a growing pet trade - apparently much of it illegal! A quick look at the CITES trade data for this family indicates that international trade is dominated by specimens or bodies for scientific purposes. There seems to be little international trade in live animals - legal trade that is!

Read the April issue of National Geographic, Inside the Black Market Hummingbird Love Charm Trade, on illegal hummingbird trade in Mexico and the US.

 

Mussel biologist, Dr. Raymond Bouchard, Jr. Credit: R. Thomas, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
Mussel biologist, Dr. Raymond Bouchard, Jr. Credit: R. Thomas, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Can I Eat Freshwater Mussels?

April 2018
The short answer is no. Historically freshwater mussels were eaten by Native Americans when preferred meat sources, such as deer, were scarce. European-American pioneers coming west also ate the freshwater mussels to survive. Today, it is legal for fishing license holders to take mussels that aren’t protected. While mussels may be collected, eating them is prohibited. Because mussels act as filters, drawing toxins out of water, state health departments prohibit their consumption. People who enjoy spending time in rivers during the summer and would like to learn about mussels should contact their local game warden before taking any freshwater mussels, or empty shells. Those interested in hands-on mussel conservation work can help crack down on invasive shellfish, such as the asian clam, which compete with native fishes for resources. While you can’t eat freshwater shellfish, you can use their meat as fishing bait. Before the development of plastics in the 20th century, there was a large industry that made buttons from mussel shells. American freshwater mussels produce the majority of pearls found in jewelry. Mussel shells are also used in folk art. Before taking any wild clams or mussels, contact your local game warden and learn the rules.

Read the story of mussel biologists who are sciencing the way to healthy river systems and clean water.

 

Lesser long-nosed bat. Credit: Bat Conservation International, Bruce Tubert.
Lesser long-nosed bat. Credit: Bat Conservation International, Bruce Tubert.
Binational Success – Endangered Lesser Long-nosed Bat Has Recovered!
Tequila producers, research and citizen science bringing bat back from the brink

April 2018
Many bat species today are vexed with declining populations, but three decades of persistent efforts have resulted in the lesser long-nosed bat bucking that trend. The southwestern pollinator has rebounded from historic lows and is being removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife, exemplifying the effectiveness of partnerships in attaining Endangered Species Act recovery. This is the first bat ever determined to be recovered and delisted.

Read the news release.
Learn more about the Long-nosed bat.


Black-capped Vireo- Color bands mark an individual male Black-capped Vireo to help identify its territory. Credit: Gil Eckrich, DPW-Natural and Cultural Resources volunteer
Black-capped Vireo- Color bands mark an individual male Black-capped Vireo to help identify its territory. Credit: Gil Eckrich, DPW-Natural and Cultural Resources volunteer.
Black-Capped Vireo Soars to Recovery Thanks to Conservation Partnerships; Service Delists the Songbird from ESA

April 2018
Not so long ago the black-capped vireo nearly went extinct. Goats ate their way through this songbird’s habitat and brown-headed cowbirds commandeered their nests. In the late 1980s there were only about 350 birds known to exist, leading to its listing as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). There are now more than 14,000 birds estimated across the vireo’s breeding range of Oklahoma, Texas and Mexico.

Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the delisting of the black-capped vireo at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. The delisting of the black-capped vireo would not have been possible without the efforts of our partners including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Fort Hood, Fort Sill Army Base, Mexico, The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, private landowners and others.

Additional information on the vireo and the final delisting rule is available at: https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ArlingtonTexas/bcvi.htm.

 

Nestling	Cooper's	hawks.	Credit:	Tig	Tillinghast.
Nestling Cooper's hawks. Credit: Tig Tillinghast.

Aging Nestling Cooper's Hawks

April 2018
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Southwest Region Migratory Birds Program, the USFWS National Raptor Program, and private citizen Tig Tillinghast have released a new publication to help with accurate age estimates for nestling raptors. A Photographic Guide For Aging Nestling Cooper’s Hawks has been produced to aid biologists, wildlife rehabilitators, and bird watchers in accurately aging raptor chicks. The guide includes dozens of photographs and descriptions of hatch through fledging to illustrate developmental changes in nestling Cooper’s hawks. It also include a section depicting plumage and eye color changes in adults to assist readers in estimating age beyond fledging.

View the full guide.


Loiuisiana pinesnake. Credit: Michael Sealy, USFWS.
Loiuisiana pinesnake. Credit: Michael Sealy, USFWS.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Protects Rare Constrictor Snake of Louisiana, Texas; Proposes Additional Conservation Measures
Proposed rule would limit regulatory burden while prioritizing conservation of species

April 2018
Based on a rigorous review of the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the Louisiana pinesnake as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A threatened designation means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Found only in the pine forests of north and central Louisiana and east Texas, the Louisiana pinesnake, a large, non-venomous constrictor snake, has declined significantly over the past several decades. Today, this reclusive reptile is limited to just a handful of isolated populations. Along with the final listing, the Service is also proposing a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that will allow protections to be tailored to those that provide the greatest benefit to the snake. The Service will accept comments on the proposed 4(d) rule until May 7, 2018

Read additional information on the Louisiana pinesnake, the listing determination and proposed 4(d) rule.

 

Moreno bog pool. Credit: Craig Springer, USFWS.
Moreno bog pool. Credit: Craig Springer, USFWS.
Map Reading in the Mimbres Valley

April 2018
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center in Dexter, New Mexico, remains pivotal in the conservation of Chihuahua chub. Some 400-plus individual fish are held on station at present. These are the brood stock used to produce future fish that make their way back to the Mimbres River. Since 1992, the federal fisheries facility as stocked 50,385 Chihuahua chub into the Mimbres to augment the natural population. The facility is also a refuge of sorts, a place to ensure the security of the rare fish in time of need.

Witness the devastating Silver Fire of 2013 that sent slugs of ash flowing down the Mimbres River. If you would like to learn more about conserving wildlife on your property, be it game animals or imperiled species, through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, visit https://www.fws.gov/partners/contactUs.html or contact Matt Filsinger at 703-358- 2011 or matthew_filsinger@fws.gov

Read the entire story.

 

Kemps Ridley sea turtle. 
Credit: Donna Shaver, NPS.
Kemps Ridley sea turtle.
Credit: Donna Shaver, NPS.
Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins on the Texas Coast
Texas Coastal Visitors Asked to be Observant

April 2018
Sea turtle nesting season along the Texas coast begins around April 1st each year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) urges everyone using Texas beaches to do their part to help detect and protect threatened and endangered sea turtles on the beach. This includes the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, which is the most critically endangered sea turtle in the world, as well as the threatened loggerhead and green sea turtles. Everyone visiting Texas beaches from April through September is asked to watch for nesting sea turtles, their nests, and emerging hatchlings and report them immediately. If a nesting sea turtle is seen, the Service advises visitors to quickly report the event by calling 1-866-TURTLE5 (1-866-887-8535).

Read the bulletin.
Access additional information on the Kemps Ridley sea turtle of the ES Texas Coastal site.

 

Monarch butterfly. Credit: USFWS.
Monarch butterfly. Credit: USFWS.

The Magnificent Monarch Migration

April 2018
The migration of monarch butterflies is one of the most epic journeys in all of nature.  From their wintering grounds in central Mexico, it takes up to four generations before reaching their final breeding grounds in the northern United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with many partners, organizations, conservation groups, communities, and private citizens to help save this amazing pollinator.

Read the story.

 

Black-capped Vireo. Credit: Gil Eckrich
Black-capped Vireo. Credit: Gil Eckrich
Proposed Plan for Ensuring Long-Term Health of Recovered Songbird Available for Public Comment

March 2018
In December 2016, as a result of collaborative conservation efforts with a range of long-standing partners, the Service determined the black-capped vireo had recovered and proposed removing it from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. To ensure the species continues to thrive if the delisting is finalized, we are now announcing the availability of a Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan (PDMP) for the songbird.

The Service developed the draft PDMP for the black-capped vireo in collaboration with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Fort Hood and Fort Sill Military Installations and The Nature Conservancy of Texas. The draft PDMP describes the methods we propose to monitor the status of the vireo and its habitat, in cooperation with our partners for a 12-year period if the vireo is delisted. The draft PDMP also provides a strategy for identifying and responding to any future population declines or habitat loss.

The draft PDMP is available for review at www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2016-0110, http://endangered.fws.gov and https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ArlingtonTexas/. Public comments must be received within 30 days, on or before April 13, 2018. Additional information is available at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ArlingtonTexas/.



Southwest Region Archived News Releases

Search additional archived news releases for the Southwest Region

 
 
Wildlife Selfies
 
Southwest Emphasis Areas
 
Youth and Students
 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife News Publication
 
Southwest Region Weather Emergency
 
Spotlight
From Wildlife Refuge to Elite Law Enforcement
March 2018
Read the story...
 

First Deer Hunt at Buffalo Lake Wildlife Refuge
January 2018
Read the story...

 
Turkey Hunting and the Psalm of Life
October 2017
Read the story...
 

Mussel Building: A gathering on mussel conservation
December 2017
Read the story...

 
Hawaiian Hawk Hatched at Comanche Nation Aviary
2017
She goes by the name of “Wahine.”
Read the story
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Last updated: May 14, 2018