Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, Nongame Wildlife Specialist
261 Highway 15 South
New Ulm, MN 56073
This region is a transition zone between western grasslands and the eastern deciduous forests. Although the area is dominated by row-crop agriculture, it is dotted with islands and corridors of native grasslands, river bottoms, bluff tops, wetlands, and woodlands. The south region includes 39 counties. Minnesota's remaining prairies and wetlands make up some of the best wildlife habitats in southern Minnesota, providing sanctuary for breeding and migratory wildlife.
The Minnesota and Mississippi River valleys form a migratory corridor for songbirds, raptors, waterfowl and congregations of bald eagles and tundra swans. Bald eagles now nest near lakes, marshes and rivers of the southwestern part of this region. The southeastern part of the region has the highest diversity of reptiles and amphibians in the state. As a result, these species are a priority for conservation activities. Various projects are targeting such species as the timber rattlesnake, blue racer, bullsnake, softshell turtle and wood turtle. The Blanding's turtle population here is one of the largest in the United States.
Projects conducted by Nongame staff focus on habitat conservation and restoration for nongame wildlife species, such as prescribed burning and invasive species control. Survey efforts include monitoring listed species, such as the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly, and tracking the more common nongame wildlife, such as colonial waterbirds and loons. Restoration projects for trumpeter swans and river otters have brought these species back to southwestern Minnesota in recent years. Also included are administration and coordination of falconry and wildlife rehabilitation activities.