Featured Species

Your national wildlife refuges protect vital landscapes and ecosystems that support wildlife. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is home to a whole host of animals—from large animals like the American bison and Rocky Mountain elk to tiny prairie dogs and colorful “Mountain Boomer” lizards. Refuge lakes and streams support plentiful fish and aquatic animals, and the varied habitats across the refuge provide places for over 275 species of birds to nest, feed, or rest during migration.  

Some have called this place home for centuries; others are simply newly returned through conservation and reintroduction efforts. The refuge has been privileged to play significant roles in the conservation and restoration of American bison, white-tailed deer, Rocky Mountain elk, North American river otters, black-tailed prairie dogs, and the black-capped vireo.  

The most visible native species are the herds of bison, elk, and 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 supported by the refuge due to the limited availability of food. 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 food available to them at any given time.