Wildlife & Habitat

White-tailed deer fawn / USFWS

Optima National Wildlife Refuge is located in central mixed-grass prairie.  Shortgrass prairie species such as buffalo grass, blue gramma, sandsage, and yucca dominate the uplands of Optima National Wildlife Refuge.

The bottomland habitat contains mature cottonwoods and tallgrass prairie species such as big and little bluestem, and indiangrass. This area offers a home to many species of native wildlife, and provides for a variety of wildlife dependent recreational opportunities.

The refuge provides an island of prime habitat for resident species such as white-tailed deer, coyotes, Rio Grande turkeys, quail, and many others. Because of its important habitats, Optima National Wildlife Refuge is a migratory stopover and summer home to many species of songbirds and raptors.

Raptors are common year-round. During the spring and summer months, common species include the Swainson's hawk, Mississippi kite, American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier, and turkey vulture. Species common in the fall and winter months are bald and golden eagles, prairie falcon, rough-legged hawk, Cooper's hawk, and ferruginous hawk. Resident game birds include the Rio Grande wild turkey, ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite quail, and scaled quail.

A variety of mammals are also found on the refuge, including mule deer, bobcat, porcupine, black-tailed jackrabbit, badger, raccoon, and striped skunk. Reptiles include the prairie rattlesnake and the Texas horned lizard, commonly called the horned toad.