Nongame Wildlife - South Region

Northern portion of the region

Mike Worland, Nongame Wildlife Specialist
Email: [email protected]


Southern portion of the region

Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, Nongame Wildlife Specialist
Email: [email protected]
261 Highway 15 South
New Ulm, MN 56073


Info Center
Phone: 651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR (646-6367)
Email:[email protected]


The South Region historically was comprised of prairie grasslands, with its eastern counties transitioning into deciduous forests. Agriculture is now dominant. Shallow lakes, wetlands, river bottoms, and prairie streams are found throughout the landscape. It includes 32 counties and the Minnesota River valley. This region also houses the Prairie Coteau Conservation Focus Area (CFA) in the southwest corner of the state. The Prairie Coteau CFA is a priority conservation area where specialists and their partners are implementing the Minnesota Wildlife Action Plan and the Prairie Conservation Plan.

The region is home to a variety of wildlife species. The Minnesota River valley forms a migratory corridor for songbirds, raptors, shorebirds, and colonial waterbirds. Communities of grassland birds like the grasshopper sparrow, western meadowlark, upland sandpiper, Henslow’s sparrow are also found in the region. Amphibians and reptiles include the Blanding’s turtle, lined snake, and Blanchard’s cricket frogs. Mammals like the northern grasshopper mouse, prairie vole, Richardson’s ground squirrel live in the region’s prairies. Pollinators like the Dakota skipper butterfly, regal fritillary and the rusty-patched bumble bee are also present.  

Protecting and restoring prairie landscapes and its wildlife through diverse partnerships is vital to the South Region. A high priority in the region is to implement conservation efforts laid out in the MN Wildlife Action Plan. For example, staff are monitoring grassland birds and pollinators to help determine the effectiveness of prairie restorations in collaboration with land managers. This information will help guide us in future prairie restorations.

Staff also assist with and oversee habitat management projects like removing brush from rock outcrops (which is important for common five-lined skinks and other reptiles) and diversifying prairie restorations through seed collection and planting forbs (which are important for pollinators). These efforts benefit many Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCNs). In addition, they survey forRichardson’s ground squirrels, Blanchard’s cricket frogs, lined snakes, and other SGCNs. They partnered with the Minnesota Biological Survey and others for the Minnesota River Reptile Project, which monitored gopher snakes (bullsnakes) and common five-lined skinks to assess their distributions and habitat use to help guide conservation efforts

Projects in the South Region


Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive updates on our work:

Sign up for updates 

Back to top