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Natural Areas of North Dakota

Wakopa Wildlife Management Area

GIF--Location of Natural Area


John W. Schulz and Robert G. Rollings

Directions: From the junction of highways 281 and 43,8 1/2 miles east to main entrance.

The Wakopa Wildlife Management Area (WMA) totaling 6,800 acres in the Turtle Mountains, is owned and managed by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. The landscape of Wakopa WMA is extensive aspen woods interspersed with lakes, wetlands, and grassland communities. Trembling aspen forms nearly pure, dense, uniform stands that comprise 80 percent of the forest on Wakopa WMA. Other trees include paper birch, bur oak, American elm, green ash, balsam poplar, and box elder.


The shrub layer is dominated by beaked hazel. Other common shrubs are berry bushes: Juneberry, chokecherry, highbush cranberry, and raspberry.

Herbaceous undergrowth includes a variety of plants. In many places, wild sarsaparilla makes a nearly complete ground cover. Black snakeroot, Penn sedge, bedstraw, false lily-of-the valley and meadowrue are all common on the forest floor. Herbs found along forest edges include vetches, dog bane and strawberry.

Wakopa wetlands include: 1) wet meadows dominated by sedges, 2) seasonal potholes with emergent vegetation such as sedges, cattails and hollow stem, and 3) more permanent lakes of varying depth and size with an emergent zone that includes bulrush, cattail and other species. Willows surround the margins of many of these wetlands.

Upland meadows within Wakopa WMA are primarily sites once cleared for agricultural purposes that have since reverted to grass and shrubs.

Aspen forests provide cover and browse for deer, moose, elk, snowshoe hare and ruffed grouse. A mix of aspen stands of various ages is ideal. Maintenance of such a mosaic on Wakopa WMA is accomplished by bulldozing averaged and understocked aspen stands after which the aspen quickly resprout.

The wildlife community on Wakopa WMA contains many other species, including foxes, coyotes, lynx, raccoons, skunks, weasels, mink, beaver, fox squirrels, muskrats and woodchucks. Many songbirds not normally seen in the open areas of the state may be observed. Bald and golden eagles are occasionally seen hunting the area during the spring and fall migrations.

Facilities: Camping is allowed in Wakopa WMA except where posted. Durations over 10 days require permit.

Wakopa WMA is an area ideal for nature study, photography, hunting, fishing, hiking and primitive camping.

The diverse flora and fauna of Wakopa WMA may be observed from canoe trails, nature trails or an auto tour route. Picnic areas with toilet facilities are available at Hooker, Dion, Gravel and Upsilon lakes.

Ownership and Contact: Wakopa WMA is owned by N.D. Game and Fish Department. Information on use regulations is available by writing: N.D. Game and Fish Department, District Office, R.Rt. 5, Box 245, Devils Lake, ND 58301.

JOHN W. SCHULZ is upland game management biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Rugby, N.D. ROBERT G. ROLLINGS is wildlife resource management biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Devils Lake, N.D.

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