Photos by L. Dillon. Click to enlarge.
This little mixed grass prairie island has always been pretty much unsettled and devoid of agriculture due to its rocky surface that kept settlers’ plows at bay. In 1901 the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was established, making it one of the oldest refuges in the country. It’s still a little island of native prairie that can provide a glimpse of what western Oklahoma looked like prior to European settlement. I’ve roamed these ancient mountains since I was a kid and I’m still as excited as a ten-year old on the trip down. You just never know what you will see.
The highlights of the 59,000-acre refuge are its large grazing animals– the American bison, Texas Longhorns and elk. But there are many more native animals to see including whitetail deer, river otters, rattlesnakes and the prairie dogs. I’ve even talked to people who have seen a family of coatimundis on Mt. Scott. More than 50 mammal, 240 bird, 64 reptile and amphibian, 36 fish, and 806 plant species thrive here.
A visit this past week provided us with an abundance of fawns, a dozen in total. The tally escalated quickly with the sightings of two pairs of twins and some rare triplets in Doris Campground. The fawns are over two-months old now and much easier to see because they are up and browsing instead of lying hidden and only getting nourishment from the does on an infrequent basis. The Wichitas truly are an Oklahoma treasure and I urge you to visit them as often as possible. Fortunately nature is not like going to the movies, it’s never a re-run of what you’ve seen before.
Some recent photos can be seen on Oklahoma Nature Pics at http://www.flickr.com/groups/1941297@N20/pool/ or on my Wichita flickr set at http://www.flickr.com/photos/reddirtpics/sets/72157628241538375/ .