Wildlife conservation is a primary focus of the USFWS and of Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge staff conducts annual wildlife surveys as well as habitat management.
Point call surveys of breeding birds are conducted annually.
The annual deer and turkey hunts give insights into the population status of these important game species on the refuge.
Many new wildlife projects are always occurring. Our amazing members and refuge volunteers are working on endangered species monitoring, habitat management, and more!
Citizen science activities and projects can be arranged in conjunction with the refuge staff. Various scouting groups and schools have pursued projects of interest on the Refuge, again, in coordination with the Refuge staff. Persons or organizations wishing to pursue wildlife projects or citizens science should contact the Refuge office, or Big Oaks Conservation Society
The Crawfish frog is an Indiana State Endangered Species that inhabits the refuge. Population surveys of this species are conducted yearly. These include call surveys, pitfall traps, and more. Habitat must be managed for this species. This includes tree removal from ponds, spraying herbicide, water management, and prescribed burns to prevent the growth of trees in our grasslands.
At the end of the 2018 breeding season, the estimated population size on Crawfish frogs on Big Oaks was ~300 frogs.
For 2022, the refuge attempted cage rearing the species with relative success. There were 2,366 frogs released this year!
Big Oaks NWR had partnered with one of the local colleges to collect data on the American Kestrel. Kestrel boxes were put up along the West Perimeter at the end of March 2018. The boxes were checked weekly for nesting activity. April 27, 2018, two American Kestrel eggs were found in one of the boxes.
As of 2022, the boxes remain along the perimeter. However, the project was not considered successful due to lack of nesting activity.