WI Humane Society's Wildlife Rehab Center
MI Watchable Wildlife Sites
MI Wildife Conservancy
ND Wildlife Federation

SD Wildlife Federation

TimeOut Chicago Wildlife
North American Bear Center
Vince Shute Bear Sanctuary
International Crane Foundation



Big Cats
Oddball Animals
Odd Bird




Best Places to See Wildlife in the Midwest

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Click on your state to see what animals are nearby.

Kansas Missouri Nebraska NDOK Texas




Cheyenne Bottoms, KS

Cheyenne Bottoms is a mid-point rest stop for 45% of migrating birds in the Western Hemisphere. Whooping cranes, Sandhill cranes, pelicans, and are among the 320 species spotted here.That's why the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network named Cheyenne Bottoms of an important site for the whole hemisphere, the only one in the midwest. They count 619,047 birds for the spring and 273,308 for the fall. The state keeps an excellent calendar of when to expect each species. The Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is nearby and can be reached on the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway.
56 NE 40 Road, Great Bend, KS (620) 793-3066


Wild Canid Survival & Research Center - MO

Endangered Wolf Center - MO The Endangered Wolf Center houses rare canids that are endangered in the wild. Wolves from the United States include the red wolf and the Mexican gray wolf. The Center also studies African painted dogs, swift foxes and maned wolves. The Center offers daytime tours Wednesday through Sunday and evening wolf howls on Fridays and Saturdays. The Center closes for two months in April and May for puppy season. Endangered Wolf Center, 6750 Tyson Valley Road, Eureka, MO 63025. From HWY 270 take I-44 west to Beaumont/Antire Rd (exit 269). The center is on the north side of the hwy. (636)-938-5900 map »
Missouri Eagle Day

Missouri worked hard to reinstate the bald eagle, reintroducing young eagles from 1980 to 1991. As of 2006, the state had 123 nesting pairs, 150 young eagles and about 2,000 winter eagle residents.
The eagles are mainly around Truman Lake and Table Rock Lake and along the Mississippi and Osage Rivers. They nest in sycamore trees. In the winter they are looking for non-frozen water to fish.
Missouri hosts a state wide Eagle Days and provides a map of likely viewing sites, where there will be help spotting.
2007-8 Eagle Days Brochure If you see an eagle nest in Missouri, you can report  to the Corps of Engineers at (660) 438-7317 ext. 1223 or to the Missouri Dept. of Conservation at (660) 885-6981.

Branson, MO Eagle Watch
Just outside country music theatre capital, Branson, bald eagles spend the winter. You can view them on the river from downtown, the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery or Table Rock State Park.
During the state-wide Eagle Days, spotters and guides will be out to help.
Table Rock Lake is one of the best places in the state to see them. They nest here in the winter. You may want to hire a guide.
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Eagles, St. Louis
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, which crosses Mississippi River into Illinois in St. Louis, is one of the best places to see bald eagles in Missouri.
The old 1929 iron bridge now just carries walkers and bikers. Formerly part of Route 66, the bridge has a curve in the middle and provides excellent river views. Below is a dam and above is the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.




Onondaga Cave State Park hosts bats you can see on cave tours. 7556 Hwy. H, Leasburg, MO
(573) 245-6576
white squirrel
Marionville, Missouri is Home of the White Squirrels



Rowe Sanctuary Sandhill Crane Migration - NE
Each spring half a million Sandhill Cranes stop over in Nebraska for a month on the Platte River between Kearney and Grand Island. They fatten up on discarded corn on their way up to Canada. The premiere viewing site is Audubon's Rowe Sanctuary outside of Kearney. Reservations (available starting at the beginning of the year) are required for the dawn and dusk viewings  March-April.
The Nebraska Game Commission lists other sites, including the Ft. Kearney Historic Site down the road. Plenty of guides offer tours, including Elderhostel.
44450 Elm Island Rd, Gibbon, NE (308) 468-5282 map »
prairie chicken
Prairie Chickens Taylor Ranch - NE
The one public "lek" to view prairie chickens is at the Taylor Ranch, near Grand Island, Nebraska. Birders come for the raucous mating displays  in March through May. Nebraska Birding Trails advises: "Active prairie-chicken leks can be located by driving this area around sunrise and stopping every few hundred yards or so to listen for their "booming" from mid-March into May."
To reach Taylor Ranch, take Interstate-80 exit No. 311, drive north on the Highway 281 for 9 1/2 miles then go left (west) on Highway 2 for almost four miles then right (north) on 60th Road until you reach a stop sign (about 2 1/2 miles). Then turn left (west) on One R Road and go one mile. Stop there, pull over to the right side and watch the hills directly north. +41° 0' 20.16", -98° 28' 5.52"
map »
Ft. Randall Dam (ND) Eagles
Several hundred bald eagles may spend the winter at the Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge, which gets far less if it's a mild winter. But you can't go there. It's closed to the public to protect the birds. What you can do is see them fish in the unfrozen waters below the Ft. Randall Dam, which is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
USACE Fort Randall Project
U.S. Hwy 281 & 18, 399 Powerhouse Rd., Pickstown, SD (605) 487-7845



Fort Robinson

Nebraska calls Ft. Robinson State Park its premiere park. This historic fort saw many battles and the death of Souix Chief Crazy Horse. A herd of about 300 cattle range here.
Bonus species:painted horse enthusiasts meet up here
3 miles W of Crawford (308) 665-2900


wild horse

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Buffalo now roam in both the south and north units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Once wiped out, the park took in 29 bison from the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge in Nebraska in 1956 and eventually divided them among the units. Now 200-400 live in the bigger south unit and 100-300 live in the north. The park controls the population.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park has wild horses that roam the south unit near Painted Canyon and Peaceful Valley. The park maintains a herd of 70-110 horses. When the herd grows bigger every few years, they round up and auction off the horses.
South Unit (701) 623-4466, North Unit (701) 842-2333

Paddlefish at Fort Buford State Historic Site
Paddlefish, an ancient species up to five feet long and weighing 100 pounds,  can bee seen at the Fort Buford Historic Site, near where the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers meet. The number of paddlefish has been decreasing in recent years, so the fishing season has been closing early.
15349 39th Lane NW, Williston, ND (701) 572-9034 map »
Prairie Dogs at Sullys Hill National Game Preserve
Black-tailed prairie dogs were introduced to Sullys Hill in 1975. The preserve, which was originally a National Park, has an annual birding and nature festival. Bison, elk and white-tailed deer were re-introduced in 1917 and 1918. The bison herd is kept at under 30, about the same number as the elk. White pelicans are common in spring and summer. You may also see tundra swan, avocet or harrier.
Take 57 south 13 miles from Devil's Lake, turn south on BIA-6. (701) 766-4272 Map »

Chase Lake NWR Pelicans

Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge has one of biggest nesting colonies of white pelicans in the country. In 2007, they counted 22,524 birds, down from 34,604 the year before.
Pelicans were spotted at the lake as early as 1863 and were nearly hunted to extinction. By 1905 there were only 500. In 1908 Teddy Roosevelt made Chase Lake the 15th National Wildlife Refuge.
From April to September you need a permit to enter the refuge to see the pelicans.

The biggest nesting colony is Anaho Island NWR in Nevada, but it is closed to the public.
5924 19th St SE, Woodworth, ND (701) 752-4218


Wallhalla--Moose Captial of North Dakota

Walhalla is the Moose Capital of North Dakota. You may see them in the Pembina Hills Wildlife Management Area northwest of town, the Walhalla Country Club or the Jay Wessels WMA south of Walhalla. The Pembina Hills were created by a gorge from the Pembina River. Pembina also has the state's only naturally occuring (not reintroduced) elk herd.


Chase NWR

Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge has one of biggest nesting colonies of white pelicans in the country. In 2007, they counted 22,524 birds, down from 34,604 the year before.
Pelicans were spotted at the lake as early as 1863 and were nearly hunted to extinction. By 1905 there were only 500. In 1908 Teddy Roosevelt made Chase Lake the 15th National Wildlife Refuge.
From April to September you need a permit to enter the refuge to see the pelicans.
5924 19th St SE, Woodworth, ND (701) 752-4218



Badlands and Custer State Park

Custer State Park in South Dakota has a herd of 1,500 buffalo that roam throughout the park. Nearby Badlands National Park has another 400. The local concession runs Jeep tours, some with chuckwagon re-enactments, that the New York Times says the tours put visitors close to the herd.

The herd is heavily managed. Each September there's a roundup festival. The whole herd is corraled, branded and what are considered excess are auctioned off. In 2007 South Dakota sold 214 bison for about $780 each and nine burros, which go for $166.

The park also has a prairie dog town, pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, wild turkeys, and a band of friendly burros.
Peter Norbeck Center, located on Highway 16A, or at the Wildlife Station Visitor Center on the Wildlife Loop 888-875-0001


  Mundt NWR

Several hundred bald eagles may spend the winter at theKarl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge, which gets far less if it's a mild winter. But you can't go there. It's closed to the public to protect the birds. What you can do is see them fish in the unfrozen waters below the Ft. Randall Dam, which is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
USACE Fort Randall Project
U.S. Hwy 281 & 18
399 Powerhouse Road
Pickstown, South Dakota

(605) 487-7845

Texas See even more wildlife in Texas
Exotic Cat Refuge and Wildlife Orphanage
The Exotic Cat Refuge and Wildlife Orphanage rescues cougars, tigers, jaguars, lions, bobcats and leopards that have been confiscated by state agencies from people who were not caring properly for them. Bonus Species: Bears, Wolves, Owls Visits are by appointment only, but you can volunteer. Kirbyville, TX 409-423-4847




Center for Animal Research and Education takes in and (where possible) rehabilitates abused or injured big cats. They have 4 leopards (1 snow), 3 cougars, 3 African lions, and 39 tigers.
The center offers tours for a minimum $10 donation on Sundays.
940-683-8115, heidi@bigcatcare.org
CR 3422, Bridgeport, TX


Laguna Atascosa NWR

The last U.S. holdout of the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Only about 50 of these small, spotted cats still survive in the US.

The Friends of Laguna Atascosa run an annual Ocelot Conservation Festival in February, where a captive ocelot makes an appearance.
Bonus species: Kemp’s ridley, green and loggerhead sea turtles, brown pelican, black-tailed jackrabbits, javelina, Aplomado falcon, American alligator and green jay.
22817 Ocelot Road, Los Fresnos, TX (956)748-3607
International Exotic Animal Sanctuary
Tour the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, which has been giving a permanent home outside Ft. Worth to bobcats, cougars, jaguars, leopards, lions (often ill-conceived pets) since 1988. As of 2011, they have 51 cats and 15 bears. The bears roam on two giant 5-acre compounds. All the animals participate in the Emotional Enrichment Program to cope with captivity. They offer weekday tours at 11 and weekend tours. 100 S Ewing St., Boyd, TX (940) 433-5091 $20/adult $10/kid. No kids under 7.
  Just over the border



Quincy Bald Eagles

Bald eagles are attracted to the open water below Dam 21 in Quincy. In January rangers come out with scopes to answer eagle questions.
Quincy Ranger Field Station (217-228-0890)


Quad City Bald Eagle Days
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers runs eagle watches at the Mississippi River Visitor Center as part of the Quad City Bald Eagle Days each February. The Corps sets up scopes and you can even watch the eagles from inside.
Eagles fish near dams in the area because there is no ice below the dams.
The festival also includes indoor bird demonstrations at the QCCA Expo Center, 2621 4th Ave, Rock Island.
The Welcome Center is off Rodman Avenue at Lock and Dam 15 on Arsenal Island, Rock Island. (309) 794-5338.
The Quad-City Times also recommends these sites:
Lock and Dam 14 at Pleasant Valley, Iowa and Hampton, Ill
Sunset Park in Rock Island. Credit Island in Davenport.






Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge Elk and Buffalo - Iowa
Elk and Buffalo roam at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, which the Friends of the Prairie Learning Center helps maintain.
Prairie City, IA (515) 994-3400

red squirrel


Isle Royal

Isle Royale National Park is home to its own species of red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus regalis, or the Isle Royale Red Squirrel, separated from the mainland squirrrels by 14 miles of water, evolved into a smaller, less red subspecies.They are the most common and most chatty animal on Isle Royale.
Isle Royale is only accessible by boat. Ferries come from Houghton and Copper Harbor, Michigan and Grand Portage, Minnesota.
(906) 482-0984



Vince Shute Bear Sanctuary - MN
The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary allows visitor the chance to see 80 local black bears from enclosed viewing platforms. Run by the American Bear Association, the sanctuary allows you to see wild--not rescued--bears.
Take Country Rd. 23 west from Orr, MN,  13 miles, then go left to Rt. 514 and look for the signs and the gravel road entrance.
(218) 757-0172 map »
North American Bear Center - MN
The North American Bear Center allows visitors to see and learn about bears, some in intensive workshops. The Bear Center and biologist Lynn Rogers  rescue, rehabilitate and when possible release bears. They also conserve bear habitat, educate the public about the exaggerated sense of danger that surrounds bears and try to reduce human-bear conflicts.
1926 Highway 169, Ely, MN (218) 365-7879 map »
International Wolf Center - MN
The International Wolf Center has daily programs on wolves. You can  meet ambassador wolves, attend seminars or having a learning vacation. Reservations required. 800-ELY-WOLF (800-359-9653) 1396 Hwy 169 Ely, MN map »
National Eagle Center, Wabasha, Mn
Bald eagles come to Wabasha, Minn., south of St. Paul, for the winter and some stay all year. The National Eagle Center has educational programs and a viewing area to see eagles on the river. They also rehab injured eagles and keeps three that can't make it in the wild.
The resident eagles would like your donated fish.
The Center offers these tips on seeing eagles nearby:

South of the Eagle Center:  An 11-foot eagle nest is in a cottonwood tree in St. Mary's Cemetery about 15 miles south of Wabasha on Route 61.
North of the Eagle Center:  On highway 61 up to St. Paul there are several pull-outs to see eagles. They fish in Lake Pepin.
152 Main St W, Wabasha, MN (651) 565-4989 map »





International Crane Foundation - WI
The International Crane Foundation is the only place in the world where you can see all 15 species of cranes, including the extremely rare Whooping Crane. The center supports cranes with captive breeding and reintroductions and by protecting and lobbying for ecosystems.
Guided tours are 10, 1, and 3--every day in the summer and on weekends for the two months before and after summer. E11376 Shady Lane Rd (Just east of Route 12), Baraboo, WI (608) 356-9462
map »
Prairie du Sac & Sauk City Eagle Watch Wisconsin
Each winter eagles turn up in Prairie du Sac and Sauk City. The Prairie Bluff Eagle Council has programs at the local high school on the third weekend in January. 
The Ferry Bluff Eagle Council provides this handy map of good viewing sites and where you shouldn't go to avoid disturbing the eagles.
The easiest spot is by Water and Washington Streets.
(800) 683-2453


wild horse

Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary gives 500 wild horses an 11,000 acre place to roam. The herd comes includes American Spanish Mustangs, Sulphur and Kiger Mustangs.--all kinds of wild horses.

You can visit for two hours ($50) or all day ($750 for three) on bus tours that also take you to see
Petroglyphs. Make reservations.

From Hot Springs, go 12 miles down 71 cross Cheyenne River Bridge, first right on Rocky Ford Road and then right on Highland Road go 3 miles to Visitor’s Center.
(800) 252-6652, (605) 745-5955








Americans spend far more time and money going to see wildlife than they are hunting it. These are figures about dollars spent in each state on the various animal-related outdoor pastimes. These are the latest figures fom the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which does a survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-related activities every five years.




Fishing % Hunting % Wildlife Watching %
TOTAL U.S. 29,962,000 13 12,534,000 5 71,0068,000 31
1,032,000 11 272,000 3 2,359,000 24
IN 741,000 15 256,000 5 1,824,000 38
IA 447,000 19 213,000 9 1,111,000 48
KS 370,000 18 195,000 9 787,000 37
MI 1,104,000 14 722,000 9 2,947,000 38
MN 1,143,000 28 540,000 13 1,946,000 48
NB 192,000 14 105,000 8 439,000 32
ND 105,000 21 85,000 17 134,000 26
OH 1,286,000 14 482,000 5 3,342,000 38


95,000 16 89,000 15 266,000 44
WI 1,028,000 24 654,000 15 1,711,000 39



Wildlife Watching
North Dakota

Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 2006



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