Wildlife & Habitat

American Bittern with Frog by Chris Bailey512x219

Management Districts preserve timeless landscapes in the face of change. The Huron District was established to protect and enhance wetlands and grasslands for the threat of being converted. These lands provide critical habitat for waterfowl, grassland song birds, and other resident wildlife. See the Huron WMD Wildlife List for a complete list of wildlife found within the Huron Wetland Management District.

  • Waterfowl


    The arrival in the spring of migrating waterfowl is spectacular sight in eastern South Dakota. The wetlands throughout the district are filled with ducks and geese preparing for the nesting season. The temporary and seasonal wetlands will be used and pair ponds in the spring and brood rearing in the summer. During the fall millions of ducks and geese will travel through the district on their trek South for the winter. The Huron WMD would not exist without the Federal Migratory Bird hunting and conservation stamp (Duck stamp). Low numbers of waterfowl in the 1930's coupled with the drainage of wetlands caused many waterfowl species to decline. Today many waterfowl populations are still in decline due to loss of essential wetlands and grasslands. Each year Fish and Wildlife Service pilots and biologists survey waterfowl populations to help determine waterfowl hunting seasons and regulations.

  • White-Tailed Deer

    White-tailed Deer Photo by Chris Bailey 150x118

    Whitetail deer are one of the most common species found in the Huron WMD. Whitetail deer flourish in the patch work landscape of grassland, cropland, and trees. Occasionally mule deer can be found in Western counties of the management district. Mule deer flourish West of the Missouri River, but can also be found in the rolling hills East of the river. Both whitetail and mule deer are popular big game species in South Dakota.

  • Grassland Birds

    Bobolink in grass Photo by Chris Bailey

    Grassland birds such as the bobolink can be found throughout the Huron WMD. Wintering in the grasslands and marshlands of Argentina, South America this little bird migrates at least 5,000 miles to its breeding grounds in grasslands of the Northern great plains. Populations are in decline due to grassland conversion in their wintering and breeding grounds. Other common grassland birds include; western meadow larks, grasshopper sparrows, upland sandpipers, sharptail grouse, and the occasional prairie chicken.

  • Ring-necked Pheasant

    Ring-necked Pheasants

    The ring-necked pheasant is the state bird of South Dakota. Pheasants begin to nest in the uplands in May. It is not uncommon to see ring-necked pheasants and ducks nesting within a few feet of each other. Pheasant numbers have slowly declined in the state since agriculture prices began to rise. With the implementation of the Conservation Reserve Program and other habitat programs, ring-necked pheasant populations have started to trend upward. Pheasant hunting in South Dakota provides a large portion of the revenue for the state of South Dakota and local businesses.

  • Wetland Dependent Birds

    Sand Hill Cranes Photo by Chris Bailey 150x118

    Thousands of sandhill cranes can be seen and heard in the spring and fall as they migrate through the Huron Wetland Management District. An endangered relative of the sandhill crane, the whooping crane, has also been sighted throughout the management district. Other common wetland dependent birds include red-winged black birds, pied-billed grebes, eared grebes, and American white pelicans.

  • Wetland Habitat

    snow geese captain planet camera

    The Huron WMD lies within the prairie pothole region. The prairie pothole region is rich in numerous shallow wetlands that provide food and shelter to many wildlife species. Most of these shallow wetlands are wet in the spring and fall and will often dry up in the summer months. Wet and dry cycles provide a rich mix of aquatic plants and insects that are important food sources for migratory birds. Other animals that rely on wetlands for food and shelter such as muskrats, toads and snails also benefit from wetland protection. The Service Wetland Easement program helps to preserve wetland habitat not only for wildlife, but for future generations to enjoy. Service wetland easements protect wetland basins from being burned, drained, or filled. Money for the purchase of wetland easements comes mainly from the sale of federal migratory bird stamps, commonly known as the federal duck stamp.

  • Grassland Habitat


    Grasslands are another important component of the Huron Wetland Management District. Waterfowl survival depends of their ability to nest in grasslands. Large tracts of grass with wetlands intermixed create the perfect habitat for waterfowl to flourish. The Service's grassland easement program ensures that there will be grasslands available for grassland dependent species. Although grassland easements are purchased primarily for waterfowl, many other species of wildlife benefit from the protection of these areas. Grassland habitat owned by the Service, Waterfowl Production Areas, are kept healthy by burning or grazing them. Grassland plants in the Dakotas are well adapted to prairie fires and frequent grazing. Along with planting areas of crop back to grass, it is very important to protect and manage the grasslands we have left.