Wildlife

White-tailed deer © Ronald Klataske

The Niobrara Sanctuary offers extraordinary opportunities to see, hear and experience a diversity of Great Plains wildlife—in addition to the wonderful array of birds. Among the “mega fauna”, magnificent White-tailed Deer, for example, are a common sight across the Sanctuary and Mule Deer are also occasionally spotted. Some of the less frequently encountered species include Porcupines, White-tailed Jackrabbits, Kangaroo Rats, Beaver, Mink, and on rare occasions, even a Bobcat may be seen disappearing through cover in a canyon. In a landscape with few other distractions, the sounds of many different species of wildlife can often be heard across the Sanctuary. Coyotes, for example, are frequently heard in the evening, often around sunset, and form part of a larger prairie orchestra that is truly unforgettable. Sometimes in the fall, bull elk can be heard bugling in the high hills and meadows across the Niobrara River. As documented in 2010 by tracks in the sand, the Sanctuary has even hosted one of the rarest species of all Great Plains wildlife–a Mountain Lion.* This regal cat was seen twice and photographed on a trail camera on adjoining property. Experiencing the activities and movements of wildlife, especially the more elusive species, is often most successful from the concealment of viewing blinds (or hides). Therefore, the Sanctuary offers a variety of blinds for both wildlife viewing and photography, and custom blinds can be designed and built upon request to meet the specific needs of wildlife photographers. A stay at one of the Sanctuary’s guesthouses provides you the chance to experience the sights and sounds of prairie wildlife—at dawn or dusk, during night or day, and while hiking along trails, driving country roads or relaxing on your porch swing. And as a guest at the Niobrara Sanctuary, your visit helps to sustain our efforts to conserve and restore this diversity of wildlife and the habitats they rely on.

*One region in the Great Plains, however, that does have a notable Mountain Lion population is the Black Hills of South Dakota. It’s important to note that millions of tourists annually visit the Black Hills and join area residents to hike, mountain climb, camp, fish and hunt in the same landscape. Like most wild animals, Mountain Lions prefer to avoid people and they are rarely encountered. This native cat has not caused a human fatality in South Dakota in the past century.

Unless otherwise noted, all images © Ronald Klataske
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