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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Wildlife Habitat Management on the
Northern Prairie Landscape

Introduction


Before settlement by Europeans, the northern Great Plains of North America was a vast prairie grassland ecosystem, dominated by grazing bison (Bison bison) and fires set by nature or by native Americans. Settlement drastically changed the landscape; now the bison have virtually gone and the prairie has largely been converted to cropland. Ninety-six percent of the land is privately owned and managed for current income. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and other natural resource agencies own tracts of land, often small ones, that they manage to meet agency objectives. The current landscape is a mosaic of these public and private lands. Agencies cannot manage their holdings as islands unto themselves; wildlife rarely meet their life requisites within those boundaries, but move freely between public and private lands to meet their needs.

The purpose of this paper is to describe briefly the Prairie Pothole Region ecosystem and indicate how it has been altered, especially as a habitat for migratory birds. We then discuss objective setting for management, mention a few tools available at the landscape level, and discuss some examples of successful use of these tools in management efforts.


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