Prairie dogs play an extremely important role in the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge prairie ecosystem.

Charles M. Russell Nwr: Nature's Timeless Landscape 

First Aired Thursday, December 15, 2011

Located in the heart of Montana’s breaks country, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (CMR) stretches more than 125 miles along the Missouri River.  CMR’s grasslands awaken each spring with the inimitable mating dances of sharp-tailed and greater sage grouse.  The subtle buzzing sounds of the native pollinators visiting spring flowers are hushed by the call of chorus frogs and the melodic songs of the western meadowlark and other grassland birds.  Pine and fir covered hillsides reverberate from the tapping of woodpeckers and the soft songs of nesting mountain bluebirds.

Mule and white-tailed deer are widely distributed throughout the breaks and river corridors of the refuge.  The presence of prairie dog colonies attracts a variety of wildlife - cottontail rabbits, burrowing owls, badgers and the endangered black-footed ferret.  Pronghorn antelope race across seemingly endless sagebrush prairie while bighorn sheep scramble up rocky buttes. Majestic elk gather and bugle under a cathedral of golden cottonwood trees in the Elk Viewing Area each fall.

Aside from its rich and diverse wildlife, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge has a complex and varied history which ranges from fossil deposits - both large and small, Native American artifacts, and log cabin homesteads.  Many of the refuge’s vistas remain unchanged, wholly reminiscent of Lewis and Clark’s explorations two centuries ago. 

Visit the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and discover one of nature’s intact and enduring landscapes.

Fish and Wildlife Service Staff

Charles M. Russell Nwr