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David Stimac

Scenic view from Shiawassee NWR in Michigan.


National Wildlife Refuge Week is October 8-14, 2023. The annual event celebrates of some of our most crucial lands and waterways and the abundant waterfowl and other wildlife found in over 560 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. These properties contain 95 million acres of land and 740 million acres of submerged lands and waters and are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

DU has worked on an estimated 45% of national wildlife refuges with the FWS, spanning reach across the country. Some of these include Shiawassee NWR in Michigan, Merritt Island NWR in Florida and Sutter NWR in California.

The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) in the United States has a rich history dating back over a century. The first national wildlife refuge, Pelican Island, was established in 1903 in Florida by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The primary purpose of the NWRS was to provide a sanctuary for migratory birds, which were facing significant threats due to the loss of their natural habitats and market hunting.

Key conservation laws, such as the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, have played crucial roles in the establishment, management, and protection of the refuge system.

These refuges serve as critical habitats for many species, including waterfowl and other birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. They provide opportunities for various recreational activities, such as wildlife observation, hunting, fishing, and photography, while also supporting scientific research and contributing to habitat restoration efforts with partners such as Ducks Unlimited.

Click here to find a NWR near you.

Media Contact:

Nathan Ratchford—Conservation Communications Coordinator

(570) 406-4925