Free to visit Laguna Atascosa during Refuge Week Oct. 9-15

HARLINGEN — The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is offering free entry to all visitors during its annual “Refuge Week” from Oct. 9 through 15.

Visitors will be able to observe migrating birds and waterfowl at the refuge’s freshwater lakes, as well as other birds in the Tamaulipan thorn scrub on the refuge’s acreage.

There’s always a possibility of spotting one of the refuge’s 15 or so ocelots.

“Basically, we’re just tying to make people aware refuges exist in the Valley, and that we’re here for wildlife, but also here for people,” Marion Mason, a ranger at Laguna Atascosa NWR, said.

The popular Habitat Tours on the Bayside Drive will begin as the kick-off to National Wildlife Refuge Week on Oct. 9.

For the remainder of October, Habitat Tours in the shuttle bus are scheduled on Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. Tickets are $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and free for people under 16.

Reservations are recommended since the shuttle bus has limited space. For more information contact the refuge at 956-748-3607 ext. 111, or visit the refuge’s website

People also are encouraged to join the refuge’s Pollinator Celebration and take photos of native pollinators and enter them into the iNaturalist app, available on a free download.

Pollinator day is a statewide effort that Mason calls a citizen/science awareness effort.

“A lot of our pollinators are having issues, being killed off by pesticides and what not,” Mason said. “They’re very important to people because they pollinate the food that we eat and all the plants out there.”

The Pollinator Day effort will upload the information collected by all participants and the data will be gathered up by state biologists. The idea is to find out what pollinators are here in Texas, and what their populations are in specific locations.

“Everything from bees to butterflies, moths and hummingbirds and back,” Mason said.

For more information visitors may attend Pollinator Day on Oct. 8 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the refuge visitor center.