A Home for Wildlife

Bison Herd at top of Pauline Creek, looking down towards Flathead River, in fall.  Photo by Pat Jamieson, USFWS

Theodore Roosevelt established the National Bison Range in 1908 to provide “…for a permanent national bison range for the herd of bison….” The refuge is also home for a host of other mammals, birds, plants and many living creatures.  The diverse habitats found here provide for the specific needs of many different animals. As you travel throughout the Refuge, you will find plants and wildlife in areas that best suit them.

  • Bison

    Head on view of bull bison.  Photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS

    The largest North American land mammal in existence, American bison were a key species of the Great Plains—their grazing habits helped establish the distribution of grasslands in the Plains. The current bison herd is maintained at approximately 250-300 animals.

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  • Mammals

    Badger mom with head resting on back of young at springtime den.  Photo by Donald M Jones

    While it was established to provide a home for bison, the Bison Range is home to numerous other wildlife species. Just as the song says, the deer and antelope truly do play with buffalo here. Whether the animals are large or small, this richness provides great wildlife viewing opportunities for visitors.

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  • Birds

    Western Meadowlark singing in top of bush. Photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS

    Legislation passed in 1921 established the Bison Range as a refuge for native birds. Over 211 species of birds have been recorded. The changing seasons bring different birds to use the refuge, from western meadowlarks nesting in the summer to wintering rough-legged hawks.

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  • Habitats

    Grassland bird nest with young, under arrowleaf balsamroot leaves.  Photos by NBR/USFWS

    Food, water, shelter and space – the abundance and variety of these essentials for life provide for the richness of plants and animals found at the Bison Range. The major habitat is the vast intermountain grassland, home to our namesake bison but the refuge also has forest, shrubland, and riparian areas.

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