Nature Photography: The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Awards: The Best, Worst, and Weirdest Things We've Seen

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, located in southwestern Oklahoma in close proximity to Lawton, has shielded exceptional wildlife habitats due to the fact 1901 and it is the oldest managed wildlife facility in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service process.[one] The refuge's locale within the geologically exclusive Wichita Mountains and its areas of undisturbed combined grass prairie enable it to be a significant conservation spot. The Wichita Mountains are close to 500 million several years previous.[2][three] Measuring about 59,020 acres (238.8 km2), the refuge hosts an awesome variety of species: 806 plant species, 240 species of birds, 36 fish, and 64 reptiles and amphibians are existing.

Record - Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

The Wichita Forest Reserve was established by the final Land Workplace in Oklahoma on July 4, 1901, with 57,one hundred twenty acres (231.2 km2). After the transfer of federal forests to your U.S. Forest Company in 1905, it became a National Forest on March 4, 1907, as Wichita National Forest.

On June 4, 1936, the Wichita Forest designation was abolished and transferred on the Bureau of Biological Study, a precursor towards the Fish and Wildlife Assistance. It was re-specified the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (WMWR).[4][five]

United States Observances and Statutes Governing Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

July 4, 1901 William McKinley ~ Proclamation 459 - Establishment on the Wichita Forest Reserve, Oklahoma[six]

January 24, 1905 58th U.S. Congress ~ Wichita Forest and Recreation Reserve Act of 1905[seven]

June 2, 1905 Theodore Roosevelt ~ Proclamation 563 - Redesignating the Wichita Forest Reserve, Oklahoma[eight]

March four, 1907 59th U.S. Congress ~ Wichita Countrywide Forest Act of 1907[9]

June 4, 1936 74th U.S. Congress ~ Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Act of 1936[10]


November 27, 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt ~ Proclamation 2211 - Wichita National Forest, Oklahoma[11]

Oct 23, 1970 91st U.S. Congress ~ Wilderness Act of 1970[twelve][13]

Description - Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

The WMWR is managed through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Provider. There are 13 little lakes within the reserve.[14]

Fauna - Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Black-tailed prairie Puppy

In accordance with the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Assistance, 240 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, sixty four species of reptiles and amphibians, and 36 species of fish are already documented.[15]

Bison with vegetation close to French Lake

Quite a few species of enormous native mammals make their property in the refuge: plains bison, also referred to as the American bison, elk, white-tailed deer graze the prairies together with Texas longhorn cattle preserved for his or her cultural and historic significance.[16] Bison, longhorns, and elk ended up launched after the establishment in the refuge. Merriam's elk, the first subspecies of elk Within this spot, is extinct, Therefore the elk during the refuge are Rocky Mountain elk. The ancestors in the herd were imported from Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1911.[seventeen] The elk herd is the biggest in Oklahoma at about 1,000[18] plus the white tailed deer amount about 450. These ungulates are now not considered endangered.[19] Many lesser mammal species also are now living in the refuge, including the 9-banded armadillo, bassarisk, and the black-tailed prairie Doggy. Other species which have been reintroduced involve: the river otter, burrowing owls and also the prairie Pet. Whilst these species weren't stated as "endangered," USFWS coverage would be to assure that species that once ended up indigenous to these mountains would usually be located there.[19] In accordance with the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma Record and Tradition, the refuge failed in its try to reintroduce the American pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, as well as prairie chicken.[20]

The conservation of bison has grown to be an ongoing, various effort. along with the refuge was critical in conserving the American buffalo from extinction. In 1907 the American Bison Society transported fifteen bison, 6 bulls and nine cows, from the Bronx Zoo. On arrival, the Comanche leader Quanah Parker and a bunch of other Indians and whites turned out to welcome the bison. At the moment, bison had been extinct around the southern Fantastic Plains for thirty years. The bison herd now quantities about 650 within the refuge.[21] In slide, bison in excess of your carrying potential in the refuge were being auctioned off but this practice was ended in 2020 in the event the refuge joined while in the Bison Conservation Initiative.[22] The 2020 Bison Conservation Initiative through the Section of the inside has 5 central ambitions: wild, balanced bison herds; genetic conservation; shared stewardship; ecological restoration; and cultural restoration. It strengthened mechanisms for delivery of bison to Indigenous American tribes from federal herds.[23] In 1973, the refuge aided bison conservation by donating a few bison into the Fort Value Mother nature Middle and Refuge.[24]

The refuge is home to lots of species of birds, and it has become the remaining homes of your lately delisted black-capped vireo.


Flora - Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

The refuge is ecologically numerous, with prairie, ravine, and mountain plant communities. The numerous uncovered granite boulders make Excellent habitat for a very photogenic, chartreuse green lichen referred to as "Pleopsidium flavum."[25] Parts from the refuge incorporate scrubby forest of mixed oak types. A disjunct inhabitants of bigtooth maple is observed below, four hundred miles (640 km) from the nearest purely natural populace in West Texas.[26]

Recreation - Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Bison calf, WMWR

There's no admission charge. General public use places over the refuge full 22,four hundred acres (nine,a hundred ha). The remaining 37,000-acre wildlife space (fifteen,000 ha) is shielded wildlife habitat only.[27] A visitor center and bookstore shows art and it has exhibits illustrating the 4 important habitats discovered about the refuge: Rocklands, Aquatic, Combined-Grass Prairie, and Cross Timbers.[28]

The refuge is a well-liked location for leisure activities. Rock climbing is overwhelmingly popular, but website visitors also take pleasure in mountaineering, tenting, fishing, chicken and wildlife viewing, and images. The refuge has an intensive path method, like about 15 miles of official trails. The world grew to become preferred for rock climbing starting from the sixties and seventies, and happens to be a thing of a regional mecca. While climbing has brought lots of guests to your refuge, some controversy exists around the use of set anchors, bolts and other forever positioned objects on the rock confront. The refuge has joined While using the Obtain Fund along with the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition to market accountable use from the Wichitas' sources.[29] Rock climbing routes are identified on Mt. Scott, the refuge's 2nd optimum summit, along with parts such as the Narrows as well as the Charon Gardens Wilderness Area.[30]


Fishing for largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, and channel catfish is popular from the thirteen synthetic lakes within the refuge.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43] Elk and deer hunting, to cull too much figures, is permitted in a managed hunt each and every drop. Hunters are picked out by lottery as well as a fee is billed. A slim winding road brings about the summit of Mount Scott, elevation 2,464 toes (751m), using a look at that encompasses the whole refuge. Even though the mountains increase only 800 to one thousand ft over the bordering prairie, These are steep and rocky. The best mountain in the refuge is Mount Pinchot which rises to 2,479 feet (756m).[44][forty five] Mount Pinchot was named in honor of Gifford Pinchot who served as the primary Chief of America Forest Service.