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The National Wildlife Refuge System

The first National Wildlife Refuge was established at Pelican Island in Florida by President Theodore  Roosevelt in 1903. "TR" is considered the founder of the system and is still close to the hearts of supporters and employees of the System.  (For more information about how the System was founded and grew, check out the official history.)

Map of the NWRS by Region     

The National Wildlife Refuge System has now grown to 567 Refuges and 38 wetland management units (and counting) covering more than 95million acres of land and 740 million acres of submerged lands and water across the US and territories.   The system is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the US Department of the Interior.  Jim Kurth is the acting FWS director since January 20, 2017.

Administration is divided among eight regions plus the National HQ in Washington, DC (Region 9).  The Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex lies in Region 4, with the Regional HQ in Atlanta.

The FWS emblem symbolizes the service's dedication to managing our nation's wild creatures, both above and below the surface.

The official symbol of the System is the Blue Goose, which can be seen on refuge signs everywhere.  The Blue Goose was designed by Jay. N. "Ding" Darling, legendary cartoonist and important architect of the early refuge system.

Check out this link for a  brief description of the history, function and resources of the NWRS,


You call keep abreast of news and events at F&WS by following their Facebook page or Twitter feed  To see all F&WS social media sites click HERE.

(Interested in a career with FWS?  Check out their opportunity website.)

   Hungry for more?
  • "America's Best Kept Secret" is another FWS video highlighting a number of refuges across the nation. About 5 minutes.

  • US FWS in collaboration with the National Wildlife Refuge Association has initiated the Vision process to help guide the future of the refuge system.  Check out what they have in store at the Conserving the Future website.

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