Wildlife & Habitat
Management Districts preserve timeless landscapes in the face of change. The Huron District was established to protect and enhance waterfowl and other migratory birds, and to provide critical habitat to resident wildlife. See the Huron WMD Wildlife List for a more complete list of wildlife found in the eight county district.
The arrival in the spring of migrating waterfowl is spectacular sight in eastern South Dakota. 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.
The white-tailed deer are the most common species found in the Huron WMD, but occasionally mule deer can be found in the management district. Mule deer are more common in the rolling hills next to the Missouri river. Hunters in South Dakota should know the difference between mule deer and white-tailed deer.
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 grassland areas such as the Huron WMD. Populations are in decline due to grassland losses in their wintering and breeding grounds. Other common grassland birds include western meadow larks, grasshopper sparrows, ring-necked pheasants and sharp-tailed grouse.
Wetland Dependent Birds
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.
The Huron WMD lies within the prairie pothole region. The prairie pothole region is rich in numerous shallow wetlands that provide a 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 or during drought years. 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 Huron Wetland Management District reviews private lands to see if they qualify for wetland easements to help preserve these important habitats for future generations. Money for the purchase of wetland and grassland easements comes mainly from the sale of federal migratory bird and Conservation Stamps commonly known as duck stamps. Wetland easements primarily protect wetlands from draining, burning and filling.
Grasslands are another important component of the Huron Wetland Management District. Waterfowl need grasslands for nesting areas and will nest up to two miles away from wetlands. The Fish and Wildlife Service purchases grassland easements to help preserve these areas for waterfowl nesting. Although grassland easements are purchased primarily for waterfowl, many other species of wildlife and people benefit from the protection of these areas. These grassland areas can be grazed at any time and can be hayed after July 15. Late haying is needed to protect nesting birds. Grassland easements are usually purchased in conjunction with wetland easements. Grassland habitats owned by the Fish and Wildlife Service are kept healthy by burning or grazing them. Grassland plants in the Dakotas are well adapted to prairie fires and will often benefit from burning. Historically the prairies in eastern South Dakota burned at least once every 5 years.
Page Photo Credits American Bittern with frog, © Chris Bailey, Mallard Drake Trio, © Chris Bailey, White-tailed deer jumping fence, © Chris Bailey, Bobolink in grass, © Chris Bailey, Flying Sandhill Cranes, © Chris Bailey, Snow Geese from "Captain Planet" trail camera USFWS/Friends of Maga Ta-Hohpi, USFWS personnel completing fire operation, USFWS
Last Updated: May 22, 2014