Wildlife & Habitat

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Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established to provide native habitat for prairie and wetland wildlife while providing opportunities for the people to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

The concentration of wetlands and grasslands found on Tewaukon NWR provides habitat for a very diverse wildlife population. Over 245 different bird species common to the Great Plains can be found here, along with some unique North Dakota species. Mammals feed and live among the tall grasses and diverse wetland communities including muskrat, mink, red fox, coyotes, badgers, striped skunk, several species of mice and ground squirrels. Four species of snakes, two types of turtles, skinks and tiger salamanders slither, run and hide in the cattails, sedges, rushes and prairie grasses.

Tewaukon has a variety of grasslands including native prairie that has never been broken by a plow and planted native grasslands. Red-tailed, Swainson’s, rough-legged hawks, bald eagles, and short-eared hunt an abundance of small prey supported by Refuge grasslands. Grasshopper sparrows, bobolinks, western meadowlarks, and savannah sparrows feed on seeds and insects in and amongst the wildflowers and grasses. The grasslands are rich with native wildflowers that provide nectar for a host of butterflies and insects. Rare prairie butterflies found on the Refuge are regal fritillary, Dakota skipper, monarch butterfly, and Powsheik skipperling.

Many wetlands dot the landscape on and surrounding the Tewaukon NWR. Created by glaciers, these wetlands have a rich community of plants that are adapted to the freezing and wet and dry conditions of North Dakota. Great egrets, upland sandpipers, 12 species of ducks, swans, geese, pelicans, cormorants, and herons use the wetlands to rest during migration and for nesting. Rails, plovers, sandpipers, and terns have been documented wading in the shallow wetlands looking for the bugs and snails that live there.
The Wild Rice River runs through both the units of the Refuge from west to east before it heads north to meet up with the Red River of the North. Beavers, green-backed herons, common yellowthroats, raccoons live and feed along the Wild Rice River zone.

Two permanent lakes occur on the Refuge, Lake Tewaukon and Sprague Lake. Both of these lakes are open to fishing. Anglers can catch northern pike, walleye, perch, and bullheads on Lake Tewaukon and Sprague Lake. The remainder of the Refuge’s wetlands are managed for migratory birds and are periodically drawn down and allowed to dry out in the summer months. These fish species plus the native fathead minnow are a common prey item for herons, egrets, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, mergansers, terns, and bald eagles.