National Wildlife Refuge
|194 Bowdoin Auto Tour Road
Malta, MT 59538
Phone Number: 406-654-2863
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Many people visit Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge each year to view and photograph the 263 species of birds, herds of pronghorn, and the native prairie landscape.|
Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge
f Malta in the Milk River Valley of north-central Montana. Established in 1936 to provide habitat for migrating, nesting, and feeding birds, the Refuge is home to more than 260 species of birds, 26 species of mammals, and a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Many of these wildlife species can be seen from the Refuges 15-mile auto tour loop.
Bowdoin NWR encompasses 15,551 acres, including more than 6,600 acres of wetlands. Refuge staff also manage Lake Thibadeau, Black Coulee, Creedman Coulee, and Hewitt Lake NWRs. In addition, Refuge staff administer Bowdoin Wetland Management District, which consists of seven waterfowl production areas and a variety of grassland and wetland easements across three counties.
Getting There . . .
Bowdoin NWR is located about 7 miles east of Malta, Montana. From U.S. Highway 2 on the east edge of Malta, turn southeast onto old County Highway 2 at the brown and white Refuge sign. Follow the paved road to the two stone pillars marking the entrance road to the Refuge headquarters.
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Prior to establishment of the Refuge in 1936, water levels of Lake Bowdoin dropped dramatically each summer; the low water levels greatly reduced waterfowl populations in the area. Also, diseases such as avian botulism wiped out many birds. Today, a system of canals and dikes allows Refuge managers to store and move water as needed on the Refuge to maintain quality habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. Rain, snowmelt, and occasional flooding from Beaver Creek add water to the system, but the main source of water for the Refuge is the Milk River Irrigation System.
Historically, wildfire and massive migrating herds of bison controlled the amount of vegetation and maintained the health of the prairie uplands in this region. Since wild herds of bison no longer inhabit the area and wildfire regimes have changed, Refuge managers must now use other means to keep prairie habitat in good condition. Grazing, mowing, haying, and prescribed burns are all used at Bowdoin NWR today to rejuvenate the prairies.