Tag Archives: us fish and wildlife

Tuesday Trek: Patuxent Research Refuge

I’m Tom Barnes — you might know me from my TGIF with Tom column. And now, I’m bringing you Tuesday Trek! Each Tuesday, I’ll give you some insight about a refuge destination you might enjoy. Planning a winter vacation? Spring break? I might know the perfect spot for your upcoming travels! 

Thirty minutes outside of Washington D.C. in Laurel, Maryland, is a leafy oasis: Patuxent Research Refuge, which is the nation’s only national wildlife refuge established to support wildlife research. Today, most of the research on the refuge is conducted by the US Geological Survey through the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, but the refuge is a great spot for winter bird walks, and fishing and hunting within designated areas during certain times of the year.

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This refuge features the largest tract of forest in the mid-Atlantic coast, and has a visitor center where guests can learn all about the importance of wildlife conservation. Focusing on migratory birds, endangered species and environmental contamination, the refuge is a field leader in applied environmental research. This is the place where scientists like Rachel Carson did research that led to the banning of the pesticide, DDT, which had damaging effects on wildlife. If you want a bit of conservation history, this is the place for you.


Credit: Andrew Butler/USFWS

Canada lynx caught on video at Vermont refuge

Video monitoring by refuge staff at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge captured footage of a Canada lynx on March 1 at the Nulhegan Basin Division in Brunswick, Vt. The camera was set up by refuge intern Andrew Butler as part of an ongoing monitoring effort, and has detected lynx on three separate occasions.

This indicates that lynx – a federally threatened species – are breeding in northern Vermont! Learn more.

Monitoring began in the winter of 2012 when Vermont Fish and Wildlife and refuge staff conducted winter track surveys, documenting a family group (adult and kittens). This past winter, wildlife biologist Rachel Cliche and Andrew continued conducting winter track surveys and documented another family group.

The Nulhegan Basin Division contains large tracts of spruce fir forest that supports snowshoe hare, the lynx’s main prey, and thus, provides the best lynx habitat in Vermont. However, predictions of warming temperatures and reduced snowfall in the coming years may cause the range of the lynx to shift northward because of reduced suitable habitat and a decreased ability to compete with other carnivores, such as fisher and bobcat. Future monitoring efforts will gather data on lynx use of the refuge and help inform habitat management to benefit the lynx and hare.

A large, carnivorous feline species, Canada lynx are rarely seen because they are nocturnal and secretive. They are similar to bobcats in appearance, but lynx have larger bodies and longer ear tufts than bobcats. The easiest way to distinguish a lynx from a bobcat is by the lynx’s solid black-tipped tail and enormous, furry paws.

Although only four confirmed sightings occurred in the state from the late 1700s to the early 2000s, lynx sightings have been on the increase every year since 2003. The department is conducting surveys to determine the full extent and distribution of lynx in Vermont. Read the rest of this April 2 news release from VT Fish & Wildlife.