Your Vote Can Help Save Wildlife

This image of the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge in California comes from our 2010 photo contest. Click here to help pick the winners for this year's contest.

If you’re a fan of wild lands and wildlife, then there’s no better place to go than a national wildlife refuge — and the good news is that there’s at least one in every state!

Fittingly, President Theodore Roosevelt, who was such a huge fan of wildlife and wilderness that we named the “teddy” bear after him, established the first refuge on Pelican Island in Florida way back in 1903. Today, more than 150 million acres in some 553 national wildlife refuges provide habitat for animals as big as bison to critters as wee as warblers.

But a lot has changed over the past century, and imperiled animals of all shapes and sizes are increasingly depending on these important lands for survival. And they’re counting on you today to speak up for them.

Imperiled animals of all shapes and sizes are becoming increasingly dependent on these important lands for survival. And they’re counting on you today to speak up for them.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency that’s responsible for managing wildlife refuges, is in the process of charting a new course for the entire refuge system. And wildlife officials want to know what you envision the future to hold.

Here are some of our favorite ideas, but we need your vote to make them a reality.

Click here to register at the Fish and Wildlife Service’s website and then vote!

  • Keep the Wildlife in Wildlife Refuge — America’s refuges are places set aside for wildlife. By allowing only those uses that fulfill the refuge system’s conservation mission,

    Herons like this one call the refuge system home.

    including those that broaden the public’s appreciation and understanding of refuges, we can make sure they continue to protect wildlife for future generations to enjoy.

  • Emphasize conservation of biodiversity — America’s refuges are places set aside for wildlife. By allowing only those uses that fulfill the refuge system’s conservation mission, including those that broaden the public’s appreciation and understanding of refuges, we can make sure they continue to protect wildlife for future generations to enjoy.
  • To build wildlife corridors between refuges, sanctuaries and protected open space – While the entire refuge system comprises a lot of land, many refuges are in fact very small — almost postage-sized — when you look at them on a map. When highways or fences, for example, block the path between protected areas and habitat, it’s a big problem for wildlife — especially animals like elk or bison that need a lot of room to move.
  • Establish Wildlife Education Centers in urban settings for outreach and relevance –  Many refuges have wonderful educational centers on location, which explain a lot about the plants and animals that call the refuge home. But these resources are often not available to city-dwellers. We like the idea of putting Wildlife Educational Centers in major metropolitan areas, so that more people can discover and learn about these  important places that belong to all Americans.
  • Create a migratory bird conservation stamp (like the Duck Stamp)The Duck Stamp is a powerful conservation initiative that has helped acquire important habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System, but it mainly appeals to waterfowl hunters. By creating a new stamp that appeals to the growing community of birdwatchers, we could protect even more habitat for America’s wildlife.

Did You Know?

Defenders executive vice president Jamie Rappaport Clark was once the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service? Check out this video to hear her vision for the refuge system.



Read Jamie Clark’s blog on the Fish and Wildlife Service’s vision website.

  • Emphasize conservation of biodiversity -The refuge system has often focused on protecting particular species or groups of species, referred to as “trust resources,” such as ducks and other waterfowl. We think this is great, but as we plan how to help these lands adapt to climate change, the refuge system needs to protect the full range of biodiversity needed to keep our refuges healthy.

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