What We Do
Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.
Management and Conservation
At White Horse Hill National Game Preserve, large ungulate populations of bison, elk, and deer are actively managed to promote health of the animals and habitat. Bison, elk and white-tailed deer populations are currently managed to less than 20 animals of each species in an effort to limit over-grazing and promote forest succession while maintaining public viewing opportunities.
Habitat resources at White Horse Hill National Game Preserve include a combination of woodlands, prairie and interspersed wetlands. Refuges use a wide range of land management tools based on the best science available including grazing, prescribed fire, management, and inventory and monitoring. Each habitat type at White Horse Hill presents its own unique management requirements and challenges.
Only 2% of North Dakota is forested. White Horse Hill is part of this unique habitat with nearly 700 acres of native deciduous forest. Woodland resources at the Refuge are managed for healthy native woodlands of various to provide habitat for migratory birds, in balance with bison, elk and other resident wildlife species. Management of woodland habitat includes, thinning, prescribed fire, invasive species control, and monitoring the effects of grazing.
Many wildlife species depend on grasslands for food, cover, and nesting sites. Prairies throughout North America continue to decline in quantity and quality, due in part to invasion by exotic plant species. Refuge managers use a variety of management tools to manage the prairie resources at White Horse Hill National Game Preserve. These include grazing, mowing, prescribed fire, farming and invasive plant removal. Vegetation surveys are conducted to monitor the diversity and density of grassland species within the prairie habitats at the Refuge.
Wetlands are important to both migratory birds and other resident wildlife. Parts of the Refuge are underwater due to the current record-high water levels of Devils Lake. There are a number of natural and constructed wetlands located throughout the Refuge that provide water sources for bison and elk and habitat for nesting waterfowl. Water levels are generally controlled by mother nature. Several freshwater springs can be found throughout the Refuge with moderate out-flows.
Visitor and Education Center
White Horse Hill National Game Preserve boasts a 6,000 square foot visitor and education center that supports learning about the natural environment and experiencing quality time outdoors. The visitor center is open to the public from June through August during peak tourism season in North Dakota. During the traditional school year, August through May, the facility is used as an educational center for area students who, with their classroom teachers, use both the indoor and outdoor facilities to integrate environmental education into their daily curriculum.
Indoor restrooms are available when the visitor center is open to the public June through August. An outdoor pit toilet is available to visitors outside of regular visitor center hours.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Officers help visitors understand and obey wildlife protection laws. They work closely with state and local government offices to enforce federal, state and refuge hunting regulations that protect migratory birds and other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities. Other duties include patrolling closed areas or wilderness areas, maintaining relationships with neighboring landowners, maintaining refuge boundaries and participating in public events.
Laws and Regulations
Management actions on national wildlife refuges are bound by many mandates including laws and executive orders.