North Dakota Wild Animals: Where to Encounter Interesting Wildlife?

North Dakota wild animals

North Dakota is known for its vast grasslands, rolling hills, and rugged badlands, which provide a rich habitat for a wide variety of wild animals. From bison to coyotes, North Dakota has a diverse population of wildlife that attracts nature enthusiasts from all over the world.

American Bison

American Bison
Source: kids.nationalgeographic.com


One of the most iconic animals in North Dakota is the American bison. Once on the brink of extinction, the bison population has rebounded in North Dakota thanks to conservation efforts. Visitors to the state can see these majestic animals roaming freely in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where they graze on the open plains.

Pronghorn Antelope

Pronghorn Antelope
Source: canadiangeographic.ca

Another notable animal in North Dakota is the pronghorn antelope. These swift-footed creatures can be found in the western part of the state, where they make their home on the grasslands. In addition to the pronghorn antelope, North Dakota is home to several other species of antelope, including the black-tailed and white-tailed antelope.


Coyote crossing road
Source: nyc.gov

Coyotes are also prevalent in North Dakota. These adaptable predators can be found in nearly every part of the state and are known for their distinctive howls. While coyotes are typically shy and avoid contact with humans, they can occasionally become a nuisance, particularly when they prey on livestock.


Other predators that inhabit North Dakota include black bears, mountain lions, and wolves. These animals are relatively rare, but sightings do occur from time to time. It’s important for visitors to be aware of their surroundings and take appropriate precautions when hiking or camping in areas where these predators are known to live.

Bird Species

bald eagles
img source: cloudfront.net

Birdwatchers will appreciate the abundance of avian life in North Dakota. The state is home to more than 400 species of birds, including bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and the rare piping plover. Visitors can spot these birds in their natural habitats, such as the Missouri River Valley or the prairie pothole region.

Where to Spot Them in the Wild?

Here is where you should go in North Dakota to see these amazing animals:

1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
img source: travelandleisure.com

This park is home to a large population of bison, along with other wildlife like elk, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. Visitors can hike or drive through the park to see these animals in their natural habitat.

2. National Wildlife Refuges

North Dakota has several national wildlife refuges that offer great opportunities to see a variety of birds and mammals. Some of the most popular refuges include J. Clark Salyer NWR, Audubon NWR, and Long Lake NWR.

3. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

img source: gopetfriendly.com

This historic site is home to a large population of white-tailed deer, which can be seen throughout the year. Visitors can also see other wildlife, such as coyotes, foxes, and bald eagles.

4. Lake Sakakawea State Park

Lake Sakakawea State Park
img source: ndtourism.com

This park is located on the shores of Lake Sakakawea, which is one of North Dakota’s largest bodies of water. Visitors can see a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds here, as well as other wildlife like mule deer, coyotes, and foxes.

5. Little Missouri National Grassland

This vast area of grassland is home to a variety of wildlife, including bison, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, and mule deer. Visitors can explore the grasslands on foot, by horseback, or by vehicle.

6. Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area

img source: forumcomm.com

This park is located in the northeastern corner of the state and is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, and gray wolves. Visitors can hike or bike through the park to see these animals in their natural habitat.

If you are interested in this topic, take a look at the wild world of the neighboring country, and explore the rich wildlife of South Dakota.


North Dakota’s wild animals offer a diverse array of wildlife for nature enthusiasts to enjoy. From the iconic bison to the elusive mountain lion, visitors to the state can experience a variety of animal encounters in North Dakota’s vast and beautiful wilderness.

In addition to these places, there are many other areas throughout North Dakota where visitors can see wildlife. It’s important to remember to always observe animals from a safe distance and to never approach or feed them. By respecting these animals and their habitats, visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of North Dakota’s wildlife for years to come.

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