Wildlife & Habitat
Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is located on the south shore of Devils Lake in Benson County. The Preserve consists of 1,674 acres ranging from prairie to forested hills and is home to a wide assortment of wildlife including migratory birds, bison, elk, and prairie dogs.
Plains bison were reduced from tens of millions to less than 1,000 by the mid-1880s. The bison is a symbol of historical significance in westward expansion and Native American culture. The Sullys Hill bison herd is one of the smallest herds managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for bison conservation. The herd is managed at a population of less than 20 animals to keep the herd size in balance with the available habitat.
It is estimated that up to 270 bird species may use Sullys Hill for both breeding and a stop over site. The species most frequently detected in the woodland habitats of Sullys Hill NGP include the red-eyed vireo, yellow warbler (pitured on the left), common yellowthroat, eastern wood peewee, ovenbird, pileated woodpecker, hairy woodpecker and least flycatcher.
Rocky Mountain elk were eliminated from much of their former range due to habitat loss and over-hunting in the early 1900s. In 1917, fifteen elk were transported from Yellowstone National Park to Sullys Hill NGP. The elk is the second largest member of the deer family. The elk herd contains less than 18 animals to ensure sufficient forage. Listen for bull elk bugling to attract a harem of female cows in the autumn.
A colony of black-tailed prairie dogs was introduced to Sullys Hill NGP in 1975 to help educate the public about these unique rodents. Prairie dogs live within “towns" consisting of elaborate systems of underground tunnels and dens. Members of the town keep a watch out for predators, such as hawks, and let out a warning bark to other members when danger is present.
Page Photo Credits All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted., Bison on Hill, By: Craig Tanner/USFWS, Bison Rolling in Dirt and Bull Elk By: Audrey Bohl/USFWS, Yellow Warbler and Black-tailed Prairie Dog, By: Scott Ralston/USFWS
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014