Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) is a complex of six refuges; Lower Klamath, Tule Lake, and Clear Lake in northern California and Bear Valley, Upper Klamath, and Klamath Marsh Refuges in southern Oregon. The refuges are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the conservation and enhancement of wildlife and their habitats. Historically, the Klamath Basin was dominated by approximately 185,000 acres of shallow lakes and freshwater marshes. These extensive wetlands attracted peak fall concentrations of millions of waterfowl and supported abundant populations of other water birds including American white pelican, double-crested cormorant, and several heron species. During the early 1900s, many wetlands were converted to agricultural lands. Today, less than 25 percent of historical wetlands remain, most of which are protected by refuge status.
Diverse Habitats Support Diverse Wildlife
A variety of habitats occur on the refuges, including freshwater marshes, open water, grassy meadows, coniferous forests, sagebrush and juniper grasslands, agricultural lands, and rocky cliffs and slopes. Totaling more than 180,000 acres, these habitats support diverse and abundant populations of resident and migratory wildlife with 433 species observed or believed present on the refuges.
Viewing Refuge Wildlife
The Klamath Basin NWRs offer excellent, year-round wildlife observation opportunities. Auto tour routes are available at Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Refuges while Silver Lake Road at Klamath Marsh Refuge also affords good viewing. Self-guided canoe tour routes are provided at Tule Lake, Upper Klamath, and Klamath Marsh Refuges. A 10-mile walking and bicycle trail meandering by the marshland and through the forested upland is available at Klamath Marsh Refuge. Exceptional viewing of early morning bald eagle flyouts from their winter roost at Bear Valley Refuge is available just outside the refuge. More information on these refuges and facilities is available from Refuge Headquarters/Visitor Center.
Binoculars, a spotting scope, and wildlife field guides will enhance your viewing experience. Staying in your vehicle, when practical, increases observation opportunities and reduces disturbance to wildlife. Remember to stop by the Refuge Visitor Center for current wildlife viewing information.
Amphibians and Reptiles
A variety of reptiles and amphibians are found on the Klamath Basin NWRs. Amphibians prefer marshes, ditches, and streams while reptiles are usually found in grassy, rocky, dry upland areas. These creatures are usually secretive by nature and require an effort on the visitor's part to be seen. They are only seen from spring through fall, and hibernate during the winter. The western rattlesnake and the night snake are the only venomous reptiles on the refuges. Visitors should be aware of their presence but not become overly concerned, as they are uncommon and normally not aggressive.
AMPHIBIANS ___ Long-toed Salamander ___ Spotted Frog ___ Great Basin Spadefoot ___ Western Toad ___ Bullfrog ___ Pacific Treefrog
REPTILES ___ Western Pond Turtle ___ Racer ___ Short-horned Lizard ___ Night Snake ___ Sagebrush Lizard ___ Striped Whipsnake ___ Western Fence Lizard ___ Gopher Snake ___ Side-blotched Lizard ___ Western Terrestrial Garter Snake ___ Northern Alligator Lizard ___ Common Garter Snake ___ Western Skink ___ Western Rattlesnake ___ Rubber Boa
We are indebted to the many visiting professional and amateur wildlife observers who have assisted the refuge staff by providing important wildlife observations throughout the years. Our list is not considered final as we are sure new observations will continue to add to its accuracy. We encourage and appreciate all observations and ask that they be reported to refuge headquarters as soon as possible.
We would also like to express special thanks to staff from the University of California-Davis, Oregon State University, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for their help in the preparation of this resource.
For more information, please contact:
Refuge Manager Klamath Basin NWRs Route 1, Box 74 Tulelake, CA 96134 Phone: 916-667-2231