About the Refuge

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War Horse National Wildlife Refuge is one of four satellite national wildlife refuges in central Montana that are part of the Charles M. Russell Complex. Satellite refuges are unstaffed national wildlife refuges which have been established by Executive Order. War Horse NWR consists of three separate land units: Wild Horse, 440 acres; War Horse, 1,152 acres; and Yellow Water, 1,640 acres.

War Horse NWR was established in 1958 as a “refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife” through a transfer of lands by the authority of the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act. This Act authorized the federal government to acquire damaged lands (lands homesteaded and later abandoned), rehabilitate them, and use them for various purposes. These lands were received in scattered parcels of various sizes. Ownership on the War Horse and Wild Horse Units is fragmented, so be sure to contact local landowners for access.

Vegetation for all units of War Horse NWR consists mainly of mixed-grass prairie (western wheatgrass, bluebunch wheatgrass, needle and thread, and prairie junegrass) with a sagebrush over story. Wetlands associated with the units are frequently dry, but are very productive for waterfowl and shorebirds when they have water. The refuge serves a staging and nesting area for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and other migratory birds. It also provides habitat for resident game species including pronghorn, mule deer, greater sage grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, and gray partridge. The refuge is open to hunting of migratory game birds, upland game birds, and big game as well as fishing, hiking, and wildlife observation.

War Horse NWR is managed by staff of Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Lewistown, MT and is one of over 550 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System - a network of public lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set aside to conserve wildlife and habitat for people today and generations to come.