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On February 5, 1946, Harry Truman's presidential order established the area south of Tishimongo, Oklahoma, on the Washita leg of Lake Texoma, as a national wildlife refuge to be operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The name Tishomingo honors a Chickasaw chief. One of more than five hundred National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) in the nation, and originally consisting of 13,500 acres, by 2000 the preserve had expanded to 16,464 acres. Forty-five hundred acres are covered by the Cumberland Pool, a part of Lake Texoma.

The refuge's major focus is migratory waterfowl, but other animals can be seen, including deer, wild turkey, and raccoons. Every year the Cumberland Pool attracts nearly one hundred thousand ducks of various species and around forty-five thousand geese, mostly snow geese. A small number of bald eagles occasionally occur. The Tishomingo bird checklist, published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, lists 275 species that have been spotted in the area. Through a special permit at the appropriate season, sportsmen can hunt waterfowl, with steel shot from shotguns, and deer, with bow and arrow only. Fishing is also a popular pursuit, and the refuge's Cumberland Pool, ponds, and Washita River contain crappie, catfish, and various bass, including striped. Angling from a boat is only permitted between March and September.

A large portion of the sanctuary is hardwood forest, with some grassland. Approximately nine hundred acres are seeded with corn, milo, and winter wheat to attract and feed wildlife. The Craven Nature Trail, named in honor of the sanctuary's first manager, Earl Craven, allows hikers and animal observers to enjoy the environment. Bird watchers can also enjoy the scenery from an observation tower and Jemison's Lookout. In the mid-1990s a movement to transfer the wildlife area to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Department failed, and the refuge remains in the national system.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Russell D. Butcher, America's National Wildlife Refuges: A Complete Guide (Lanham, Md.: Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 2003). Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 7 February 1946. Johnston County Capital-Democrat (Tishomingo), 14 February 1946, 11 April 1946, and 11 July 1946. William Palmer, Audubon Guide to the National Wildlife Refuges: South Central (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2000).

Larry O'Dell

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