Kern National Wildlife Refuge Updated:04/2022

Kern National Wildlife Refuge is found just beyond the southern edge of the historic Tulare Lake in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The Southern San Joaquin valley was a vast wetland surrounded by saltbush scrub and grassland prior to the 1900's. Herds of elk and antelope roamed throughout the entire Central Valley. They were stalked by the now extinct California grizzly bear as well as by mountain lions and coyotes. 

The large game animals were hunted to near extinction in the mid 1800's. No large mammals, with the exception of the coyote, exist on the refuge today. Reclamation of valley habitats began in the 1850's and continues today. The damming of the San Joaquin valley rivers for flood control and irrigation purposes depleted the water supply to the natural lakes and marshes. 
Kern National Wildlife Refuge was established on November 18, 1960 to resurrect portions of these reduced ecosystems. This 11,249-acre refuge has wetland and upland habitats suitable for a variety of wildlife. The refuge restores a small segment of extremely valuable waterfowl habitat and plays an important role in the success of avifauna or bird life using the Pacific Flyway.

Birding is best on the refuge from October through March. Migrating and wintering species provide the greatest numbers and variety of birds. Refuge ponds are usually dry between May and August, mostly to control disease vectors that arise in the heat of the summer.

Contact Kern National Wildlife Refuge

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Contact Kern National Wildlife Refuge

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
10811 Corcoran Rd
Delano, CA  93215
Phone: 661-725-2767

Service Area

Services provided in:
  • Kern County, California