Wildlife & Habitat

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Established in 1954, the primary purpose of Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge ( NWR) is to conserve, maintain, and manage wildlife and habitat for migratory birds. The 10,778 acre Kirwin NWR is located in the rolling hills and narrow valley of the North Fork of the Solomon River in north-central Kansas. The Refuge lies in an area where the tall grass prairies of the east meet the short grass plains of the west. As a result of this merging of prairies and plains, grasses and wildlife common to both habitats are found on the Refuge. 


  • Greater Prairie Chicken

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    The Greater Prairie Chicken is in the grouse family.  The male Greater Prairie Chicken has yellow-orange air sacs inflated during the courtship display of this lekking species.  Found in North America, this species was once abundant but has become less populous due to habitat loss.

  • Canada Geese

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    The Canada Goose is a prime example of wildlife commonly seen at Kirwin NWR during the migratory period.  Because of the reservoir and outlying cropland areas, Kirwin can attract in excess of 75,000 Canada Geese during the migration. 

  • Prairie Dogs

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    The prairie dog is an important food source to the endangered black-footed ferret.  Prairie dogs can benefit their habitat in many ways.  Prairie dog burrows can act as aquifers and contribute to soil aeration and incorporation of organic matter.  In short-grass prairies, forbs can increase in quantity because of the digging and scratching activities of the prairie dog that disturbs the soil.

  • Deer

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    The white-tailed deer at Kirwin NWR are extremely populous, with herds exceeding 100+ deer in sightings.  Archery hunting is allowed on the refuge during the regular archery season.  Permits are available on a lottery-style draw basis.  Contact the refuge at kirwin@fws.gov for more information.