Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
This is an acrylic fridge magnet souvenir of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma, United States. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, located in southwestern Oklahoma near Lawton, has protected unique wildlife habitats since 1901 and is the oldest managed wildlife facility in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service system. Measuring about 59,020 acres (238.8 km2), the Refuge hosts a great diversity of species: 806 plant species, 240 species of birds, 36 fish, and 64 reptiles and amphibians are present. The refuge's location in the geologically unique Wichita Mountains and its areas of undisturbed mixed grass prairie make it an important conservation area. The Wichitas are approximately 500 million years old. Several species of large native mammals make their home at the refuge: Plains Bison, also known as the American buffalo, elk, white-tailed deer graze the prairies along with Texas longhorn cattle preserved for their cultural and historic importance. Bison, longhorns, and elk were introduced after the establishment of the refuge.
Merriam's Elk, the original subspecies of elk in this area, is extinct, so the elk in the refuge are Rocky Mountain Elk. The ancestors of the herd were imported from Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1911. The elk herd now numbers about 800 and white tailed deer about 450. Many smaller mammal species also live in the refuge, including the Nine-banded Armadillo and the Black-tailed Prairie Dog. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was important in saving the American buffalo from extinction. In 1907 the American Bison Society transported 15 buffalo, six bulls and nine cows, from the New York Zoological Park to the refuge. On arrival, the Comanche leader Quanah Parker and a host of other Indians and Whites turned out to welcome the buffalo. At that time, buffalo had been extinct on the southern Great Plains for 30 years. The buffalo herd now numbers about 650 on the refuge. In fall, buffalo in excess of the carrying capacity of the refuge are rounded up and sold. The Refuge is home to many species of birds, and it is one of the remaining homes of the endangered Black-capped Vireo.