Important Bird Areas

Fort Pierre National Grassland

South Dakota

Fort Pierre National Grassland, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, is located in central South Dakota, south of the capital, Pierre. It is primarily mixed-grass prairie in the Missouri River breaks ecoregion. The Grassland is interspersed with private holdings, with significant grazing and scattered crops (primarily wheat or sorghum). Stock dams are scattered throughout the Grasslands, offering water sources which attract bird life as well as other animals. Prairie Dog towns also attract a unique assemblage of species. Recreation, grazing, and wildlife habitats are all major management activities on the Grassland.

Ornithological Summary

The Grassland contains many leks for both the Greater Prairie Chicken and the Sharp-tailed Grouse. It also supports an abundance of raptors, including Gyrfalcons and Snowy Owls in winter. Prairie Dog associated species such as the Burrowing Owl are present, as well as grassland migrants such as Sprague's Pipit and the Long-billed Curlew. More than 50 bird species breed on the Grassland.

Conservation Issues

Non-native species, especially cool-season grasses, replace native warm-season vegetation. Sylvatic plague among Prairie Dogs has a chain reaction on ecologically-dependant species such as Burrowing Owl, Sprague’s Pipit, and scavenger/predator raptors. Much lead shot occurs on Prairie Dog towns in prairie dog carcasses which can cause lead poisoning in the raptors that feed on them.

Ownership

Owned and managed by U.S. Forest Service.

Habitat

The Grasslands are a mixed-grass prairie, primarily of non-native cool-season grasses. Stock dams, prairie dog towns, and very small tree plantings are scattered throughout the Grasslands.

Land Use

Outdoor recreation, grazing, and wildlife production and conservation are all major activities on this site. There is no developed recreation sites on the Grasslands.