The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was established to protect wildlife species in grave danger of extinction and to restore those species that had been eliminated from the area. 

Bison were reintroduced, as were elk and wild turkey.  The reintroduction of wildlife is to ensure wildlife once native to the Wichita Mountains will always remain on the landscape. Recent reintroductions include the river otter, burrowing owls and the prairie dog, which is now flourishing in four areas of the refuge.  

The efforts to perpetuate the major species of wildlife once imperiled have been very successful. The big game herds have increased to the point that they are no longer are in danger. The major goal of big game herd management has changed from assuring the perpetuation of an endangered species to maintenance of representative herds utilizing good range-use practices.  

Three native herds dominate the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, including American bison, Rocky Mountain elk and white-tailed deer. While neither "native" nor "wildlife," a herd of Texas longhorn cattle is maintained to preserve the cultural and historical legacy of this breed. These four species are the basis for the vegetative management on the refuge, as they are responsible for the vast majority of grazing and browsing. Each herd is evaluated to determine the number of animals which can be maintained by the refuge due to the limited availability of forage. As a result, minimum objective levels for each herd are set, which is the fewest number of animals allowed in each herd. These limits allow only approximately 33% of the grassland vegetation available to be used each year, ensuring that all wildlife will have ample forage available to them at any given time.