Refuge Success Spotlight
Historically, black bears were so abundant that the unofficial motto for Arkansas was “The Bear State.” Yet Black bears became rare in Arkansas after 1850, due to over-harvesting and habitat destruction.
By 1930 less than 50 black bears were thought to remain in the state, with most residing in the rugged remote bottomland areas of what is now the Dale Bumpers/White River National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Arkansas.
The remote wilds of the refuge played a critical role in the comeback story of these native Arkansas bears. Established in 1935 the refuge provided the first buffer against bulldozers that were actively clearing and leveling the surrounding forests for farmland. By protecting and managing these remaining forest lands our refuge provided one of the most successful comeback stories in wildlife management history.
The bald eagle was totally wiped out from Arkansas as a nesting species by 1930. A reintroduction program was initiated in 1982. From a single pair on White River National Wildlife Refuge in 1982 the Arkansas population has grown to over 80 "breeding" pairs!
Today, well more than a thousand bald eagles are believed to be "wintering" this season in Arkansas.
Thanks in part to the these efforts the Interior Department was finally able remove the American bald eagle from the endangered species list on June 28, 2007. An American conservation success story.
Grand Giants Protected
Arkansas’s largest living tree, recognized by the Arkansas Forestry Commission, is a bald cypress found in the remote wilds of White River National Wildlife Refuge. The tree measures roughly 120 feet high, 14 feet wide with a 514-inch (about 43 feet) circumference.