Skip to main content

Plants and Animals


A variety of vegetation exists on the Reserve. Common species dominate the landscape, yet a closer look will yield some not-so-well-known plants. Inventories have identified about 400 plant species.

The Rare and Endangered:
The Reserve contains 12 plant species identified as rare or endangered, such as cliff cudweed, rock club moss, and bird’s eye primrose. Most notable is northern monkshood, (Aconitum noveboracens), listed on both federal and state endangered lists. Forty-seven percent of the state of Wisconsin’s population of northern monkshood exists within the Kickapoo Valley. The deauthorization of the dam project was in part due to the presence of this and other rare and endangered species.               

Unfortunately, invasive plants are also found in the Reserve. Some have abundant populations, such as honeysuckle, wild parsnip, and reed canary grass; others have low (but growing) numbers, such as garlic mustard, spotted knappweed, and purple loosestrife. Through education, volunteers, and use of chemical and mechanical methods, the Reserve is making efforts towards control and eradication of these species.

Yellow flowers of wild parsnip 
Beware of Wild Parsnip

Note: sap/fluids from wild parsnip cause severe burning when in contact with skin. Use caution when around this invasive.

For more information of specific invasive species or general information, go to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' invasive species page or the Invasive Plant Association of Wisconsin (IPAW).

Domesticated Exotics:
The Reserve also contains an occasional collection of non-native or exotic - yet non-threatening -domesticated plants, such as lilacs, tulips, and peonies. These plants are remnants from homesteads that once existed in the valley. Their presence serves as a tribute and reminder of those who lost their homes for the dam project.  

Painted Turtle on Old Hwy 131 Trail


Close up photo of Dutchman's Breeches and Trilium


Along with the diverse vegetation of the Reserve, diverse populations of mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian species also exist.

The variations in land cover and vegetation provide an  excellent habitat for a wide selection of birds. Over 100 species of nesting birds have been identified in the Reserve, including bald eagles, green herons, and cerulean warbler. Rare birds include red-shouldered hawk, cerulean warbler, Kentucky warbler, Louisiana waterthrush and acadian flycatcher. For a more extensive list of what bird species have been found in the Reserve, visit our bird website. Birds of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve (pdf), a 2008 brochure, is available at the visitor center.

The Kickapoo Valley Reserve and Wildcat Mountain State Park are listed as an Important Bird Area by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.

species include white tail deer, fox squirrel, coyote, beaver, river otter, and others. An occasional black bear or cougar makes an appearance in the area, but none are known to reside in the Reserve.

The Reserve is home to a wide variety of reptiles and amphibians. Turtle species include snapping, wood (threatened), Blanding's (protected), the painted, and eastern spiny soft shelled.

Field crews have encountered the common garter, the brown (or DeKay's), the western fox (or Pine), northern water, the gray rat, and the smooth green snakes. Other species with habitat ranges that include the Reserve are the blue (or yellow-bellied) racer, the eastern hognose, the bull snake, the eastern milksnake, the and the northern redbelly. Of the 21 species of snakes in Wisconsin, only two are venomous: the eastern massasauga (endangered) and the timber rattlesnakes. No documented encounter with rattlesnakes has been reported in the Reserve. Regardless, both rattlesnakes are protected animals.

The Kickapoo River and the wetlands of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve provide excellent habitat for numerous species of amphibians. Frog species include bull, green, leopard, and wood. The Reserve also contains a few species of tree frog such as the chorus, spring peeper, and gray. The american toad is also resident.

Of the seven Wisconsin salamander species, five species are most likely to be encountered on the Reserve: the blue-spotted, the four-toed, and the eastern tiger salamanders; the central newt; and the mudpuppy. The other two Wisconsin salamanders, the spotted and the red-backed, have habitat ranges in more northern parts of the state. 




KVR Birds

The Kickapoo Reserve Management Board acknowledges that the state and federal lands that comprise the Reserve fall within the ancestral homelands of First Nations people including the Hooçak Nation. We recognize the sovereignty of the Hooçak and other First Nations and will work towards a shared future by continuing to create collaborative opportunities to protect and preserve these lands.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve | S3661 State Highway 131 | La Farge, Wisconsin 54639 
Phone: 608-625-2960 | FAX: 608-625-2962

Facebook logo