Wildlife sanctuaries are an important component of ecological preservation. First officially developed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 with the designation of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, today there are more than 562 wildlife refuges and sanctuaries in the U.S. managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), covering more than 150 million acres. Nevada has several of these wildlife refuges, many of which most people are unaware. In addition to Reno’s
Animal Ark, which was previously covered earlier this month, here are ten more wildlife sanctuaries for the ecologically minded nature lover to visit.
1. SafeHaven Wildlife Sanctuary, Imlay
SafeHaven is a non-profit, solar-powered "green" wildlife rehabilitative center that provides permanent placement for animals in need such as abandoned exotic pets and animals that, for some reason, cannot be placed back in the wild. SafeHaven also rescues and rehabilitates those animals that are eligible for re-release. SafeHaven also provides education and outreach services to adults and youths. (Pictured: Christopher the white Bengal Tiger.)
2. Lion Habitat Ranch, Henderson
Opened in 2012, Lion Habitat Ranch is a nonprofit that strives to protect wild lions and donate to wild lion habitats. Lion Habitat Ranch also supports Conservation International in Kenya by working to seek bans on the captive breeding of lions for canned hunting. The ranch is always open by appointment only.
3. Sheldon NWR, Washoe and Humboldt Counties
Established in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover, this 573,000-acre wildlife refuge was originally established to provide sanctuary for the American Pronghorn antelope. Native secondary species include mule deer, sage-grouse, fish, and various song birds, as well as various plants and other flora. The refuge extends into Oregon as well.
4. Anaho Island NWR, Pyramid Lake
Established in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson as a breeding ground for birds, Anaho Island is now home to one of the largest nesting colonies (over 10,000 birds) of American white pelicans in the continental U.S.
5. Pahrangat NWR, southern Nevada
Pahrangat NWR was developed in 1963 and has since been expanded to its current 5,382 acres. The reserve is located along the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south migratory route in the western U.S. Over 264 bird species (half of all known species in Nevada) have been recorded here. making this refuge a popular place for bird watchers and photographers. Additional wildlife include rabbits, tortoises, and a large number of insects.
6. Desert NWR, Las Vegas
The Desert NWR is the largest in the continental U.S. wildlife refuge, measuring over 1.5 million acres. It is among the largest intact blocks of desert bighorn sheep habitat left in the southwest U.S. In addition to bighorn sheep, Desert NWR is home to nearly 320 bird species, 53 mammal species, 35 reptile species, and four amphibian species, as well as over 500 different plant species.
7. Ruby Lake NWR, Ruby Valley
Ruby Lake attracts diverse wildlife species, particularly birds, due to its location along migration corridors. The refuge has been identified as one of 500 Globally Important Bird Areas by the American Bird Conservancy. The refuge is also known for its expansive marsh, lush meadow, shrub-steppe uplands, and riparian habitats with cool, spring-fed waters which attract and support a diversity of wildlife rarely found in the high desert.
8. Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Fallon
Fallon and Stillwater NWR are home to such resident wildlife like coyotes, white-tailed antelope, ground squirrels, rabbits, kangaroo rats, amphibians, snakes, insects, and hundreds of thousands of shore birds such as long-billed dowitchers, black-necked stilts, and American avocets. The Stillwater Complex has been designated a site of international importance by the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network as well as a globally important bird area.
9. Moapa Valley NWR, Clark County
Established in 1979, the Moapa Valley NWR seek to protect and repopulate the endangered Moapa dace (pictured). Currently, the upper reaches of the Muddy River is the only place on earth that dace are known to exist. Due to the fragility of the reserve and ongoing improvements, the wildlife reserve has limited guest hours.
10. Ash Meadows NWR, Amargosa Valley
Ash Meadows NWR contains numerous plant and animal species not found anywhere else in the world. The USFWS operates the
Ash Meadows Fish Conservation Facility (AMFCF), which supports the recovery of the endangered Devils Hole pupfish. The refuge also seeks to promote conservation management and awareness education, outreach programs, voluntarism, and visitor services programs.
These ten wildlife sanctuaries are guaranteed to provide visitors an increased appreciation for Nevada’s animal and plant species. More information on any of these NWR can be found at the
USFWS Nevada website. Have you visited any of these gorgeous areas? Please share your comments and experiences below.