Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
All of the state's rivers or streams have been impacted by man. Early explorers noted the clarity of the prairie streams. There was an abundance of freshwater fish and aquatic wildlife. Today most of these streams are silt and chemical-laden from agricultural runoff, have been channelized into straight-flowing ditches, or are inundated by reservoirs.
These impacts have significantly changed the flora and fauna. Where there was once a wide diversity of fish species, there are now bullheads and carp. Where river otter played along the banks, domestic livestock grazing and streamside tillage alters habitat.
More than fish are dependent on rivers and streams. Some species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants would not be found in this state without the existence of rivers and streams. Several species have already disappeared from the state because the quality of their habitat has greatly diminished. Others are close to disappearing, and some have survived the change. Those species of most concern are listed below.
Bald Eagle: The bald eagle is a fisheater that lives near large lakes and rivers. It was thought to be extirpated from North Dakota for 30 years until a nest was found in McLean County in 1975. Now it has been 11 years since this species has nested, and energy development in western North Dakota lessen the chances that it will return as a breeding bird in our state.
Least Tern: The principal habitat for least tern in North Dakota is the sandbars on the Missouri River. The nests are very vulnerable to accidental damage by humans who use the islands for recreation. Increased recreational activity along the river and water level fluctuations could easily extirpate this species. Probably no more than 40 pairs remain in our state.
Shortnose Gar, Blacknose Shiner, Rosyface Shiner, River Shiner, Red Shiner, Finescale Dace, Longnose Sucker, Greater Redhorse, Central Mudminnow, Yellow Bullhead, Flathead Catfish, Logperch, River Darter.
Paddlefish, Shovelnose Sturgeon, Sicklefin Chub, Sturgeon Chub, Lake Chub, Stoneroller, Hornyhead Chub, Pugnose Shiner, Northern Redbelly Dace, Pearl Dace, Blue Sucker, Banded Killifish
Yellow Cress (Rorippa calycina): The only North Dakota collection of this species is from Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone River, collected in July 1855. It was also collected along the Yellowstone River in 1890 at Custer, Montana. It was found in the wet river bank soil. Recently, it has also been collected in Wyoming. This species is being considered for the federal endangered species list.Sedge Family:
Sedge (Carex pedunculata): This species is known from only Cavalier County. It grows in oak and birch woodlands in the Pembina Gorge. The plant is usually found growing in rich woods. It ranges from Newfoundland to North Dakota and south to South Dakota, Iowa, and Virginia.Figwort Family:
Common Yellow Monkey Flower (Mimulus guttatus): This species is known from only one location in Grand Forks County, where it grows along the Turtle River. It ranges from the Yukon, Alaska south through Alberta, British Columbia, through the western mountain states to New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, and California.