Minnesota Attractions

Minnesota Wildlife

Discover Great Minnesota Wildlife, both Animals and Plants

Minnesota wildlife The state of Minnesota prides itself with its rich wildlife heritage, both plants and animals. Minnesota boasts of numerous bird sanctuaries, both terrestrial and marine parks, animal orphanages and zoos not to mention large tracks of natural forests where both indigenous and exotic plants can be found.

The state of Minnesota meets the points of the prairie, the boreal forest and the eastern deciduous forest. The vantage location makes it easily accessible both within North America and from Canada. Itís uniqueness creates a diverse natural heritage and results in three distinct geological terrain patterns. They include grassland plains in the south and west, coniferous forests in the north and hardwood forests in the east. Individual regions have their own unique natural beauty that attracts visitors from all over the country. The state also boasts a plethora of other attractions that fuel the state's tourist trade. Itís water-rich, with approximately 10 million acres of wetlands, 69,000 miles of rivers, and 12,000 lakes.

At the start of your trip a visit to the Bell Museum of Natural History arouses your curiosity and sets you in the mood of wildlife-watching. In the museum at the University of Minnesota, Dioramas display all of the stateís habitats, from forest to prairie, as well as creatures that depend on them. The museum that is open from Tuesdays through Sundays is also a must stop kids who will enjoy the touch-and-see room, and can try on antlers, feel animal pelts, or pet a turtle.

Minnesota is home to numerous varieties and species of birds and this makes bird watching and birding some of the best wildlife and tourist attractions. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes and wild turkeys are some of the species making a comeback to the Twin Cities area. You cannot miss the magnificent sight of a flood of bird species migrating through the area twice a year.

Other vantage points and locations for bird watching include Afton State Park where we have the field and savannah sparrows, eastern meadowlarks, bobolinks, indigo buntings, wood thrush, bluebirds, Baltimore orioles, wild turkeys, scarlet tanagers and pileated woodpeckers, the Carver Park Reserve has a viewing blind to watch for waterfowl, a shorebird pond and the Lowry Nature Center that attracts birds such as Trumpeter swans, nesting osprey and barred owls. Itís also a good location to look out for songbirds and migrating warblers.

The metropolitanís landscape also includes a remarkable number of lakes, rivers, parks and preserves. This makes the Twin Cities area an exceptional urban location for wildlife watching. The Metro area that spans the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers flyways is bordered by St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. A natural wildlife refuge that has about 30 nature centers of wildlife habitat spreads along a peaceful corridor through this bustling region.

North of St. Paul we have the Snail Lake Park also called the Grass Lake Park. It offers the chance to see loons and osprey in the Metro area. There is a recreation area with a swimming beach and picnic area to the south end of the Snail Lake. It offers an opportunity to see the common loons that nest on the other end of the Lake and the others that visit the Lake. Ospreys on their nesting pole can be viewed across the water from the trail on the northern side of the lake. A further walk through the paved trail takes you through Oak woodlands along the east side of the marsh where you can listen for marsh wrens and many types of sparrows.

To extend their generosity and hospitality, the state of Minnesota has put up the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul. Itís an inexpensive and educational attraction that is open daily. The Zoo houses a variety of exotic wildlife that includes polar bears, orangutans, sea lions, flamingos, giraffes, gorillas and lions. The conservatory also features a Japanese garden, a tropical garden and an orchid house. As of September 2010 admission into the Park was free. However the park relies on generous donations from visitors and well wishers to cater for the cost of caring for the animals and plants within.

When in Minnesota you should tour and experience the rich wildlife heritage of Northern Minnesota. Itís home to numerous wildlife including wolves, moose, elk, black bears, Bald Eagles, Great Gray Owls and Greater Prairie-chickens. These and others make Northern Minnesota a memorable and special location.

For Nature Lovers, Wood Lake should be your destination of choice. It is a 3 mile stretch that includes a boardwalk through a cattail marsh. You must explore this wetland bordered by woods and restored prairie. Minnesota also has a number of units comprising of natural vegetation. The Upgrala Unit which is about 9.9 km≤ is a mosaic of marshes, ponds, fields, and floodplain forest. The Chaska Unit found between Chaska and Carver is about 2.4 km≤. It contains a marsh-edged lake, floodplain forest, and old fields. The fields are being restored to floodplain forest. The Louisville Swamp Unit is about 11 km≤ located on the right bank of the river just north of Jordan, Minnesota. Itís centerpiece is the Louisville Swamp. There are estimates that Louisville Swamp floods three out of every five years, and trail closures are common. To deal with the flooding a water control structure helps regulate the outflow into Sand Creek, a short course which flows into the Minnesota River. The unit also includes dry lands above the bluffs which bear old fields, prairie, and oak savanna.

To appreciate the importance attached to wildlife in Minnesota, visit to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center is a must. This is part of the College of Veterinary Medicine that treats more than 800 injured eagles, hawks, owls and falcons a year. Raptors that cannot be returned to the wild due to permanent disabilities can also be found on display. It is Open Tuesdays through Sundays.

Like any other trade, wildlife faces a myriad of challenges. The loss of habitat and itís degradation are the most significant. The habitat concerns are not only impacting on the species in greatest conservation need, but also the economic and cultural benefits of a healthy environment. This includes the peopleís opportunity to enjoy quality outdoor experiences and a pollution free environment. There is also limited knowledge about wildlife species, their habitats and management requirements. This limits the ability to make informed decisions and recommendations for protecting and managing habitats. The limited information and lack of education programs related to wildlife conservation also reduces the opportunity for Minnesotans to appreciate, understand and protect many little-known wildlife species.

To ensure that Minnesota remains the tourist destination of choice Minnesota's wildlife action plan has outlined a set of species in greatest conservation need and created a conservation approach that seeks to ensure the survival of all Minnesotaís wildlife for future generations to experience and enjoy.

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