Wildlife & Habitat

Moose wandering at sunset

Despite its relatively small size of 2,774 acres, a wide variety of habitat types can be found on the refuge which plays an important role in the large number of wildlife species that use the refuge during migration and breeding seasons. Over 300 species of wildlife - 22 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 6 species of reptiles, 45 species of mammals, and over 223 species of birds have been observed on the refuge.

See the complete KNWR Watchable Wildlife list.



  • Birds

    Rufous Hummingbird perched

    More than 223 species of birds make the Kootenai NWR their home!  From the tiny rufous hummingbird to the majestic bald eagle, bird enthusiasts will love to explore the diverse habitats.

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  • Mammals

    River otter with pondweed

    Bounding through the refuge are as many as 45 species of mammals!  They come as big as a moose or as tiny as a shrew and all play an integral role in the circle of life.

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  • Insects


    Not often in the spotlight, but probably the most important animals that live in the refuge are insects!  They are the food source for many other species and are a key player in pollinating plant species.

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  • Fish


    Although small in size, Kootenai NWR has 22 species of fish that inhabit its waters.  Since the water impoundments are all interconnected and the main source of water intake to manage our wetlands comes from the Kootenai River, it's possible to have several species of fish enter the waters on the refuge.

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  • Habitats


    Wetlands, meadows, riparian forests and cultivated agricultural fields (for producing wildlife food crops) make up the fertile river valley which constitutes the largest portion of the refuge. In combination with cereal grains, seasonal wetlands provide habitat to support waterfowl populations of thousands of birds, especially mallards in the fall and spring. 

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  • Invasive Species

    Hawkweed 150x118

    Land clearing and human habitation can have significant detrimental effects on native ecosystems since disturbed habitats are more prone to invasive species.  Invasive plants and animals frequently degrade, change, or displace native fish, wildlife, and plant resources.  When invasive plant species displace native vegetation, they alter the composition and structure of the vegetation communities, affecting food webs, and modifying the ecosystem processes, resulting in considerable impacts to native wildlife.

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