National Wildlife Refuge System:

Contributions Being Made to Endangered Species Recovery

RCED-95-7: Published: Nov 14, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 15, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) National Wildlife Refuge System, focusing on the extent to which wildlife refuges contribute to the protection and recovery of endangered species.

GAO found that: (1) of about 900 endangered species, 215 occur or have habitat on national wildlife refuges; (2) the endangered species found on wildlife refuges represent a diversity of wildlife; (3) although many listed endangered species inhabit wildlife refuges, many other endangered species use refuge lands temporarily for breeding or migratory rest stops; (4) FWS refuges contribute to the protection and recovery of endangered species by providing safe and secure habitats, implementing recovery projects that are tailored to each endangered species, and identifying specific actions that can contribute to species recovery; (5) FWS efforts to manage wildlife refuges have been inhibited because funding levels have not kept pace with the increasing costs of managing new or existing refuges; and (6) at 14 of the 15 locations reviewed, refuge managers and staff believed that funding constraints limited their ability to enhance habitat and facilitate the recovery of endangered species.

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