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  • 15 Dec 2015 9:00 AM | Anonymous
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News

    New App Helps Sort Millions of Trail Camera Images

    Remote trail cameras capture millions of images of ocelots, bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn, birds and other wildlife sparring, visiting water, foraging, marking territory and more within the Refuge System. For those images to be useful for scientific purposes, they must be sorted and labeled.

    There’s an app for that.

    It’s called Moniker, and it’s available free at the App Store for iPhone and iPad users. 

    At New Mexico’s Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge alone, 36 cameras amassed 2.7 million images in four years. Typically, sorting that mountain of imagery for scientific analysis means enlisting family, friends, volunteers and neighbors. Meanwhile, more cameras are positioned and the imagery backlog mushrooms. 

    The Moniker app allows anyone, anywhere to sort camera-trap imagery. The crowd-sourcing approach helps manage the imagery backlog, while the app helps generate public appreciation of America’s wildlife. In return, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service obtains sorted images useful for addressing management and conservation priorities. 

    The app operates by downloading 15 still (not video) images at a time to an iPhone or iPad. The app pulls up each image individually, and the user classifies the species by using a scrolling wheel. The user then identifies the number of individual animals. Because most images contain one or two individuals, the app has buttons for these. Otherwise, the number of individuals is keyed in. If, something, say blowing grass, triggers the camera without capturing a wildlife species, the code “ghost” is used. 

    Ultimately, this process sorts the images and stores them on a remote server, where they are ready for project use. To ensure data quality, each image is sorted multiple times and majority opinion prevails. The final sort is subsampled and checked for accuracy before analysis. 

    To try the app, go to the App Store on your iPhone (model 4, OS version 8.4.1 or newer) and iPad (model 2 or newer) and search for “Moniker.” Moniker may not immediately pop up in the suggestions, so hit the Search tab again and it will. 

    For more information on how the app can be used for scientific analyses, contact Gran Harris, chief of biological services for the Southwest Region, at

    CAPTION-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remote trail cameras capture a steady stream of images of wildlife, such as this one of a coyote chasing pronghorn at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. A new crowd-sourcing app helps to sift through and label the images.

    For more stories like this, visit

  • 16 Nov 2015 12:00 PM | Anonymous
    Roots and Shoots from Anahuac High School came out to help researchers at Anahuac NWR search through water column samples for invertebrates (tiny insects, worms, mollusks, etc). 

    Ms. Tiffany Lane, a graduate student from Texas Tech is studying winter waterfowl habitat selection on Anahuac NWR.  She and her assistant, Mariah Box, collect samples from ponds that are utilized by numerous duck species and then examines the samples to identify the invertebrates in those pond. They are looking to determine why those particular ponds are selected by the ducks. 

    Roots and Shoots came out to assist in the tedious nature of picking through the samples and got some valuable information while doing it.  They were able to ask questions about what types of Science careers were available, what it's like to be in college working on her Master's Degree, etc.  Tiffany shared some great information about getting jobs and how to choose a degree. 

    It was a great day for everyone; the students were able to see some "real life" science work and they were a BIG help!!  

    Photos courtesy of USFWS:

    Top photo-Tiffany Lane speaks to group

    Middle photo- Students examine their invertebrates

    Bottom photo- Students in Roots and Shoots having fun

  • 15 Nov 2015 9:00 AM | Anonymous
    Shaun Sanchez brings rare experience from all three levels of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to his new position as deputy chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System. He assumed the position of second-in-command in October.

    Over his Service career, Sanchez has worked in four regions. Most recently, he was chief of the Refuge System Division of Budget, Performance, and Workforce. In that post, he helped set and manage annual Refuge System performance measures and direct a comprehensive evaluation of the Refuge System’s overall effectiveness in delivering its mission. 

    Earlier in his career, he has served as deputy assistant regional director in the Southeast regional office in Atlanta; manager at Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Nevada; deputy refuge manager at Yukon Delta Refuge in Alaska; and refuge manager at Anahuac Refuge in Texas. 

    Shaun began his Service career as a student trainee at two Southwestern refuges. He holds a biology degree from New Mexico Highlands University. Sanchez is the son of Martin and Joyce Sanchez of Las Vegas, N.M.

    For more stories like this, visit

  • 06 Oct 2015 12:00 PM | Anonymous

     Visit the Texas Chenier Plain National Wildlife Refuges Complex

    During National Wildlife Refuge Week

    October 13–17, 2015

     Photo by Allen Biedrzycki at Anahuac NWR  

    Nature moves us. What better time to celebrate that connection with the natural world than National Wildlife Refuge Week?


    National wildlife refuges, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are part of Americans’ rich natural heritage. They have been so since 1903, when President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island, Fl.


    Anahuac, McFaddin, and Texas Point NWRs are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the nation’s premier public network of lands and water dedicated to habitat and wildlife conservation.  The nation’s 563 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts offer visitors wonderful opportunities to fish, hunt, hike or see and photograph iconic wildlife in its natural setting.

    Refuges also help clean our air, filter our water, teach our children and support local economies. More than 47 million people visit a refuge each year.


    Ninety percent of refuge visitors come away pleased according to a 2012 study by the U.S. Geological Survey. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife,” said one respondent.


    Here’s what Texas Chenier Plain NWRs Complex, located at 4017 FM 563 (map), Anahuac, Texas, has planned to help you celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week:

    • Come visit the visitor center from 1:00pm until 4:00pm on Tuesday, October 13th thru Friday, October 16th to learn about the refuge and make a craft with the kids!
    • Saturday, October 17th, the refuges will have a booth at KBR Kids Day on Buffalo Bayou in Houston
    • Also on Saturday, October 17th the Complex will host Galveston Bay Foundation’s Bike Around the Bay 

    Learn how you can help protect and preserve your natural resources. Start here at the Texas Chenier Plain NWRs Complex.  Consider volunteering or joining us a Friends member and volunteer 

    For more information about national wildlife refuges, visit: or on Facebook at

  • 19 Jun 2015 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    Friends of Anahuac Refuge
    Mini Gator Tales
    June 2015

    Family Fishing Day


     Thank you to the 175 volunteers and visitors who came out to Anahuac NWR's Family Fishing Day on Saturday, June 6! Special thanks to Anahuac's Lazy Pelican Bait Shop and Donny Stanfield for donating shrimp used for bait. 

     Photographic Bird List Now Available on FOAR Website

    Black Skimmer
    Norman Welsh

    Blackburnian Warbler
    Norman Welsh 

    Mottled Duck
    Norman Welsh

    Check out our updated bird photo page. As a quick reference to identifying birds, photos of nearly every bird typically seen at the refuge is listed on one page. Less common species are included as well, but some still need a photo. If you have photos of specific types of birds, please send them our way and we will share them online.

    Click here for photographic bird list

    History of Tropical Weather on the Texas Coast and Anahuac NWR

    Map of Hurricane Ike's Storm Surge in Texas and Louisiana in September 2008

    Summertime on the Gulf coast means tropical weather. The upper Texas coast has had it's fair share of tropical storms and hurricanes over the years. Read more about that history and how Anahuac NWR has recovered from Hurricane Ike in 2008.
    Click here for story

    National Wildlife Refuge System News

    USFWS Releases List of Most Visited Refuges in 2014

    The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has released it's list of the 20 most visited refuges in 2014. Refuges in 18 different states are included.

    Read the story here

    Buy a Book About the Refuge...

    to Support the Refuge!

      The 50th anniversary books are for sale at the Visitor Center and Visitor Information Station as well as online on our book project page.  The book tells the story of the Anahuac NWR's 50th year through photographs and writing all done by volunteers. Profits from book sales go back to the Friends to pay for refuge projects.Check out an article from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service about the book here.

    Don't Forget to Renew Your Membership!

    Don't forget to renew your membership online via PayPal or by check in the mail.  When renewing, we also encourage you to receive our full quarterly newsletter Gator Tales, electronically.  It saves trees, saves us printing costs, and gets you access to more content.

    Send checks to:

    Friends of Anahuac Refuge
    P.O. Box 1348
    Anahuac, TX 77514 

    Snowy Egret at Anahuac NWR

    Photo by Allen Biedrzycki

    Thank you for supporting YOUR

    National Wildlife Refuge!

  • 08 Jun 2015 9:00 AM | Anonymous
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News

    Building Community Through a Refuge

    By Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    The Albuquerque Business Journal in March named 30 women from a highly competitive pool of 435 nominees as this year’s Women of Influence in the state of New Mexico. The Journal was looking for women who are leaders, innovators, mentors and role models. It comes as no surprise that Jennifer Owen-White, manager of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, was an honoree.

    Owen-White is pouring her heart and soul into Valle de Oro, the first urban refuge in the Southwest Region. And she is building the refuge with the people of Albuquerque. Valle de Oro is, “a refuge established, designed and built by the community for the community, and that is so exciting,” she says. That it is!

    “I often tell people that it is not my job as the refuge manager to build this refuge; it is my job to help the community build its national wildlife refuge,” she says.

    Throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System, our visitor services folks are engaging nearby communities and helping them build their connections to nature by answering their concerns and meeting their needs.

    Unless we act, many of today’s children will have few opportunities to experience nature. We have become a more diverse, more urban nation, and many kids don’t get a chance, like I did, to wander fields breathing in pristine air, to turn over rocks in creeks and find out what was hiding out there, to watch a bird of prey swoop down on a river and grab a fish with its talons.

    But visitor services folks are working tirelessly to find programs that do allow young people to connect with nature, even in the heart of a city like Albuquerque. At Valle de Oro Refuge, one project uses community gardens to help youth really get their hands dirty. Sometimes, geocaching or other adventures that use the latest technology get people out into nature.

    I know many refuges are holding fishing derbies for new anglers or wildflower walks or even “spring cleaning” events. That’s on top of the normal events that happen at refuges: teaching people about the amazing critters and beautiful places that we share the world with.

    Since I took this job, I have emphasized that priorities are making the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service relevant in people’s lives and ensuring that all Americans really see that what we do matters in their lives. We can’t afford to allow millions of kids to continue growing up with little understanding of the personal stake they have in healthy wildlife and ecosystems. A world without a conservation ethic is not a world friendly to humanity.

    For more stories like this, visit

  • 07 Jun 2015 12:00 PM | Anonymous
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News

    20 Most Visited Refuges in Fiscal Year 2014

    National wildlife refuges attracted almost 47 million visitors in fiscal year 2014. According to the Refuge Annual Performance Plan, here are the 20 most-visited refuges:


    1 – Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

    2 – Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, California/Arizona

    3 – Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois

     Photo by USFWS

    4 – Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma

    5 – Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina

    6 – Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia

    7 – Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

     Photo by USFWS

    8 – Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

    9 – Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois

    10 – J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

    11 – Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama

    12 – Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California

     Photo by USFWS

    13 – National Elk National Wildlife Refuge, Wyoming

    14 – Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

     Photo by USFWS

    15 – Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin

    16 – Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts

     Photo by USFWS

    17 – Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii

    18 – Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii

    19 – Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

    20 – Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, Tennessee

    For more stories like this, visit

  • 29 May 2015 9:30 AM | Anonymous
    Friends of Anahuac Refuge
    Mini Gator Tales
    May 2015

    Family Fishing Day
    Saturday, June 6, 9am-1pm

    Anahuac NWR's Family Fishing Day even returns on Saturday, June 6, 2015. It will be held on Frozen Point at the refuge from 9am to 1pm. The first Saturday of June each year is the only day in Texas where everybody can fish without a license. This family-friendly event is suitable for all experience levels and open to the public. There will be volunteers helping rods and and casting, fish education, crafts, games, refuge information.

    The event is free and registration is not required.

    Visit our Fishing Day page on our website for more information about the event and how to volunteer at the event.

    Click here for printable map

    FOAR/Audubon Bird Surveys Continue

    David Sarkozi and Travis Lovelace at Birding Workshop, Spring 2015

    Consider completing a bird survey on your next trip to the refuge. The data collected supports ongoing bird studies on the upper Texas coast for the USFWS and Audubon Texas. The directions are simple:
    1) Got to a spot on the refuge and identify it and the weather on the form.
    2) Observe and record as many birds as you can from your spot for as little as 20 minutes at a time.
    3) Drop the form at the VIS or the VC before you leave or scan and email it Travis Lovelace at
    4) Come back the next month and count birds again from the same spot. You will be surprised how many birds you can identify!

    Any experience level is welcome to complete forms as any data is useful!

    Click photo for Audubon TERN workshop video courtesy of Chambers Wild

    National Wildlife Refuge System News

    Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge Established in North Carolina

    Bog turtle at Mountain Bogs NWR in North Carolina, photo by USFWS

    That National Wildlife Refuges System welcomes it's 563rd refuge. It could eventually preserve over 22,000 acres of wetlands in the Appalachian Mountains that are home to 5 endangered species, including the bog turtle.

    Read the story here

    Buy a Book About the Refuge...

    to Support the Refuge!

      The 50th anniversary books are for sale at the Visitor Center and Visitor Information Station as well as online on our book project page.  The book tells the story of the Anahuac NWR's 50th year through photographs and writing all done by volunteers. Profits from book sales go back to the Friends to pay for refuge projects.Check out an article from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service about the book here.

    Don't Forget to Renew Your Membership!

    Don't forget to renew your membership online via PayPal or by check in the mail.  When renewing, we also encourage you to receive our full quarterly newsletter Gator Tales, electronically.  It saves trees, saves us printing costs, and gets you access to more content.
    Send checks to:
    Friends of Anahuac RefugeP.O. Box 1348Anahuac, TX 77514 
    Bullfrog at Anahuac NWR
    Photo by Joe Blackburn

    Thank you for supporting YOUR

    National Wildlife Refuge! 

  • 13 May 2015 12:00 PM | Anonymous
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News

    Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge Established in North Carolina

    The new Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge in western North Carolina, formally established in April, is devoted to the conservation of southern Appalachian mountain bogs, one of the rarest and most imperiled habitats in the United States.

    Mountain Bogs Refuge is the nation’s 563rd national wildlife refuge. North Carolina is home to 11 refuges; Mountain Bogs Refuge is the first one west of Charlotte.

    “The establishment of Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge marks a turning point in the efforts of a number of dedicated partners in preserving this unique and threatened habitat,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director Jim Kurth. “It will provide a focal point for mountain bog conservation in the area, and highlights the importance of our National Wildlife Refuge System in preserving our nation’s spectacular biodiversity for future generations of Americans.”

    The Nature Conservancy donated an easement on a 39-acre parcel in Ashe County, which formally established the refuge.

    Less than 20 percent of the mountain bogs that once existed still remain. They are typically small and widely scattered across the landscape, often isolated from other wetlands. Important to wildlife and plants, mountain bogs are home to five endangered species – bog turtles, green pitcher plant, mountain sweet pitcher plant, swamp pink (a lily) and bunched arrowhead.

    Bogs also are habitat for migratory birds and game animals, including mink, woodcock, ruffed grouse, turkey and wood duck. They also provide key benefits by their natural capacity for regulating water flow, holding floodwaters like giant sponges and slowly releasing water to nearby streams, decreasing the impacts of floods and droughts.

    Bogs are breeding habitat for many species of amphibians, especially salamanders, of which the Southern Appalachians have the greatest diversity in the nation.

    The refuge may eventually grow to 23,000 acres, depending on the willingness of landowners to sell and the availability of funds to purchase lands. To guide acquisition of land and conservation easements and bog conservation in general, the Service has identified 30 sites -- or Conservation Partnership Areas -- containing bogs and surrounding lands.

    Funding to acquire land and easements would likely come from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, funded by fees collected from the sale of publicly-owned offshore oil and gas drilling leases.

    For more information about Mountain Bogs Refuge, visit

    Photo caption:

    Bog turtles – the smallest North American turtle – is one of five endangered species that find a home on the newly-established Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.

    For more stories like this, visit

  • 28 Apr 2015 11:30 AM | Anonymous

    This article was originally written in the 2013 summer edition of FOAR's newsletter Gator Tales.

    Welcome a Special Visitor - Pingo Has Made It to the Refuge

    By Tim Cooper, Project Leader, Texas Chenier Plain NWR Complex

    During this season, Anahuac, McFaddin, Texas Point and Moody refuges host birds that are traveling over great distances and find shelter in our area. Even though Anahuac NWR is now celebrating its 50th year as a National Wildlife Refuge, we still have much to learn about its value to wildlife resources on a global scale. I am excited about the increasing information that is coming in regarding the Whimbrel roost on Anahuac NWR. Right now, the roost is becoming more active as birds come in daily from wintering in South America. Refuge Biologist Patrick Walther has been working with others to increase understanding of this annual concentration of remarkable birds.

    One of the things that makes a National Wildlife Refuge significant on a larger scale is well illustrated with this example. This Whimbrel roost, discovered by Refuge Biologist Matt Whitbeck and proven to be a globally important migration roost, is located deep in the heart of the refuge's East Unit. It is estimated that as many as 10% of North America's Whimbrel population uses Anahuac NWR as a safe haven and a critical "refueling" area for a much further migration push into the Arctic. These birds must arrive in the Arctic in adequate condition to quickly conduct an elaborate courtship display, nest, lay up to 4 eggs and rear young; and hopefully be back in shape to migrate south.

    Whimbrels are one of the world's great migrants that nest in the Arctic tundra then migrate down to South America for winter - often over water most of the way. Heading south, our visiting bird, named Pingo, left land at the Saint Lawrence River mouth in Quebec and crossed the open Atlantic Ocean headed south to Brazil. She spent the winter almost 6,000 miles from her summer grounds. What kind of athlete does it take to fly that great route burning body fat and eventually muscle tissue for days on end? Likely never seeing land and never being able to stop and catch her breath, Pingo made her way south on an all-or-nothing non-stop flight. Her southbound trans-Atlantic flight was around 3,500 miles and it looks like she added a slight detour! She averaged around 46 mph on the start of this trip, which would make the trans-Atlantic flight more than 76 hours of non-stop flying. Her navigation ability with no ground based landmarks alone is an incredible feat.

    The website has tracked about 23 Whimbrels that were fitted with satellite transmitters in the fall. By spring, only four are still working and sending data. See a listing of these Whimbrels on their website. Click on the list under Pingo and see the brief story surrounding one of our international refuge visitors this season. Thankfully, she arrived on the refuge and is here as I write this. Let’s see how long she stays and maybe the bird named Mackenzie (on the same site) will pay us a visit as well.

    As spring migration comes into its own, take a moment and marvel at what is happening around us. The story of Pingo should remind us that we all play a support role in a much bigger picture, providing and maintaining a network of critical habitats for wildlife. She is one single bird, one of many thousands of her species, and Whimbrels are just one species which are protected and sheltered by National Wildlife Refuges. But with technology putting her tracking and life history story information in front of you, it is amazing!

    Thank You for all that you do on a daily basis to help keep these refuges such special places.

    Whimbrel at Anahuac NWR photo by Joe Blackburn

    Update April 2015:
    According to the website, Pingo stopped transmitting a signal in May 2014. However, as of this post, three of the original 23 Whimbrels continue to transmit their location, including Postel, who has been transmitting for over three years during it's annual journeys between Hudson Bay in Canada and a mangrove forest on the Brazilian coast.

    Click here
    to read about the discovery of new staging areas by the Whimbrel tracking project at the Manomet Center for Conservation Science. Pingo and Anahuac NWR are mentioned.

The Friends of Anahuac Refuge was established in 1997 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Anahuac, TX.

For questions, call the refuge office at 409-267-3337.


Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 1348

Anahuac, TX 77514

Refuge Office Address:

4017 FM 563, Anahuac, TX 77514

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