Tip-toeing through the forest may be any number of animals, but be especially on the look out for moose or deer! More than 45 species of mammals make Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge their home where they dine on grains, shrubs, and other critters and raise their young.
A herd of Rocky Mountain Elk may be seen trotting through the open areas of the refuge, headed back up into the protection of the forests. During the autumn and winter months as many as 200 elk will browse on the grains and shrubs during the night and can be seen at first light in the mornings.
The most sought after large mammal is the moose. These majestic critters are most often seen in the wee-hours of the morning or at dusk when they wander through the wetlands and riparian areas to feed on aquatic vegetation. During the summer months, the cows will bring their young calves out to the wetlands to feed.
Numerous white-tailed deer can be seen scattered around the refuge any time of year. They browse on the grains, shrubs, trees and other plants. During the rut in October and November, the big bucks make an appearance as they chase around the does!
Occasionally black bears pass through the refuge looking for food or water. They tend to be quite wary of humans and will often take off running if disturbed. Not to be confused with grizzly bears, black bears may be any range of colors from blond, brown, cinnamon, to black. Grizzly bears tend to stay higher in the mountains where there is less disturbance. Learn more about bear identification from Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Several species of bats have made Kootenai NWR their home. Of the 13 species of bats known to reside in Idaho, Kootenai NWR has 11 of those species! As part of the Inventory and Monitoring Program within the National Wildlife
Refuge system, Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge took part in an acoustic bat inventory project during the summer of 2012. In the summer of 2013, collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service helped us verify at least 3 of those species by using mist-nets to capture live bats and examine them up close, in hand.
Keep an eye in the wetlands or Myrtle Creek for a sleek river otter playing or nibbling on a fish. Visitors may get a glimpse of a family bounding across a road travelling from one body of water to another. Busy building blockades on some of these water ways are beavers! Beavers gnaw down trees and shrubs to stop the flow of water where they want to set up a home. Darting in and out of some of these trees and into the grasslands, coyotes can often be seen stalking their prey, field mice or other rodents!
Page Photo Credits Cow moose with calf. -©Stan Bousson, White-tailed deer: buck. -©Stan Bousson, Black bear cub. -©Stan Bousson, Coyote pup in grass. -©Stan Bousson, Bull moose. © Annie Pflueger
Last Updated: Dec 15, 2015