Howland Island - National Wildlife Refuge

National Wildlife Refuge

On June 27, 1974, Secretary of the Interior Rogers Morton created Howland Island National Wildlife Refuge which was expanded in 2009 to add submerged lands within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of the island. The refuge now includes 648 acres (2.62 km2) of land and 410,351 acres (1,660.63 km2) of water. Along with six other islands, the island was administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex. In January 2009, that entity was upgraded to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument by President George W. Bush.

The island habitat has suffered from the presence from multiple invasive exotic species. Black rats were introduced in 1854 and eradicated in 1938 by feral cats introduced the year before. The cats themselves proved to be destructive to bird species and were eliminated by 1985. Pacific crabgrass continues to compete with local plants.

Public entry to the island is by special-use permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only and is generally restricted to scientists and educators. Representatives from the agency visit the island on average once every two years, often coordinating transportation with amateur radio operators or the U.S. Coast Guard to defray the high cost of logistical support required to visit this remote atoll.

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