Follow the creek decorated with Indian paintbrush up through Charon’s Garden Wilderness at Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. The refuge has over 15 miles of trails – taking you through scenic rocky outcrops, beautiful mixed-grass prairie and scrub oak forest. With 8,570 acres of designated wilderness, the refuge offers backcountry camping by permit in certain portions of the Charon’s Garden Wilderness Area. Photo by Steven Hunter (www.sharetheexperience.org)
This expression says it all. A raccoon at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa tucks into a tree cavity during a windy afternoon. Highly adaptable, raccoons live in forests, mountain areas, marshes and urban centers all across the country. Appropriately nicknamed “masked bandits,” they use their human-like paws to get into areas off-limits to most animals and they’re excellent climbers. Hollow trees offer excellent shelter and a safe place to hide out. Photo of a pouty raccoon by Jessica Bolser, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This isn’t a scene you’d expect to find in the Nevada desert: pools of Caribbean-blue water supporting a grove of ash trees. Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is a unique oasis and an internationally recognized wetland of importance. Nearly 30 species of plants and animals that don’t exist any place else on Earth are found in this isolated wonderland. Springs of fossil water – melted ice buried thousands of years ago – feed the pools. You’ve got to see it for yourself. Photo by Rod Colvin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service volunteer.
Mid-April brings a burst of wildflowers, choruses of frogs and also– baby bison! Nicknamed “red dogs” for the reddish color of their coat, bison calves can weigh anywhere from 30-70 pounds when they’re first born. This time of year offers plenty of tasty prairie plants for the growing calves. Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado is a short drive from downtown Denver and provides a great place to watch our national mammal roam. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The vast wetlands of southern Louisiana are lovely to people and critical to wildlife. Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge is designated as a Globally Important Birding Area and hosts incredible numbers of waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds and raptors. Fishing in the shallow water or flying across the sunset sky, ducks, egrets, spoonbills and hawks can all be spotted here. If you want to join the birds looking for dinner, fishing season recently opened. Good luck! Photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Who else is looking at things extra closely today? April Fools Day is a hoot!
Eastern screech owl at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia by Graham McGeorge (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Oh deer! We can’t hide from another birthday post!
March 14 marks the birth of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Things looked a lot different back in 1903 when President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island in Florida to protect wild birds. But today, the National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is a premier network of public lands, with over 567 wildlife refuges in each state and territory. They support thousands of iconic plants and animals, local communities and outdoor adventure. It’s probably easier than you realize to visit a local wildlife refuge, and what better day to plan your next trip than today? Photo courtesy of Dawn Wilson.
Most of us will never see a lynx. Though found in Alaska, most of Canada and some states along the northern border and in the Rockies, these majestic cats are rare and elusive. If you catch a glimpse of one in the snowy forest, look for their long legs, large paws, long dark tufts on the ears and a short, black-tipped tail. Excellent hunters – hare are their primary prey – they’ll probably see you before you see them. Photo by Sara Germain, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
On the Delaware coast, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge occupies a maze of waterways and wetlands. The area provides us with an appreciation of how people, land resources and wildlife have coexisted and collectively shaped the current surroundings. A nationally recognized birding spot, the refuge attracts people as well as hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Photo by Gene Bailey (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico offers access to quiet beaches, spectacular ocean views and topnotch snorkeling. The refuge was created to maintain rare subtropical dry forest habitat, help local wildlife and protect historical and archeological sites. It’s a blend of rich heritage and the soothing calm of paradise. Photo courtesy of Keenan Adams.