Wisconsin Wildlife Pictures and Stories

Welcome to Wisconsin wildlife, where the badger reigns supreme as the official state mammal. Check out the video clip to see a badger family in action.

Wisconsin wildlife depends on the health of their various ecoregions. Simple to complex presentations of the differences between the land and the wildlife it supports exist with the most simple explanation beginning by splitting the state between the forests in the north and central parts of the state and the grasslands and/or agricultural farmland of the south. Additionally water sources, from Lake Superior in the North, the Mississippi River in the west and Lake Michigan in the east define Wisconsin state boundaries.

Dividing the forests and plains into two regions each adds a bit of complexity to the outline.

  • Northern Lakes and Forests
  • North Central Hardwood Forests
  • Driftless Area
  • Southeastern Wisconsin Till Plains

The northern lakes and forests get described as boreal forests, similar to those across the very northern tier of the United States, including New England. The north central hardwood forests contain more deciduous trees.

The southern part of the state consists of what was formally Wisconsin prairies, long since developed into agriculture areas. The driftless area consists of the hilly southwest that did not experience glaciation and a flattening of the area to the east, as experienced in the prairie region.

Further complexity can be added to the ecoregion outline. For example, the Southern Till Plains has been divided into five separate regions each with specific soil types and precipitation levels. Both governmental and non-governmental organizations document the existence and health of the fauna and flora that rely on the area.

Wisconsin Wildlife: Pictures

picture of a Wisconsin orchid, Tuberous grasspink
Wildlife diversity also depends on species habitat preference flexibility. Consider the following examples from the worlds of flowers and herps of species with both state wide and regional ranges.

Wildlife diversity also depends on species habitat preference flexibility. Consider the following examples from the worlds of flowers and herps of species with both state wide and regional ranges.

Up first are a handful of very common flowering plants. Many of the popular native flowering plants have a more flexible habitat preference, meaning they can grow in both forests and fields. The picture shows a Tuberous Grass Pink. It thrives in wet, acidic sandy soil, so with exception of western border counties (the so called Driftless areas), it’s fairly common.

picture of purple fringed orchid flowers
Purple fringed orchids also thrive in both meadows and forest lands, making it fairly common in most of the state.

picture of a group of Michigan Lilies
Fawn lilies grow abundantly throughout most of the northern United States. The Michigan lily follows that general trend and can be found in most areas of the state.

picture of Prairie Blazing Star flowers
Another group of native flowering plants might have a larger, but still limited range. The Prairie blazing star, a member of the aster family, can grow up to five feet tall. While it’s a popular garden flower, it’s native range is the non-forested southern half of state.

picture of a Northern Leopard frog in Wisconsin width=
Of the dozen frog species documented in Wisconsin, only the Blanchard’s Cricket Frog is listed as endangered. Nine of the frogs are fairly common and can be found in most areas of the state wherever suitable water breeding grounds available. Of these, the Cope’s Gray Treefrog avoids most of the forested north. The picture shows a Northern leopard frog, common throughout the state.

picture of a red-backed Salamander in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s northern climate translates into less salamander species than it’s southern neighbors. Six of the seven species get classified as common, although their ranges are sometimes limited. For example, the Red-backed salamander (pictured) and the Spotted Salamander reside in the northern forests. The Eastern tiger salamander avoids the northern and southwestern parts of the state.

The following buttons lead to more detailed information on the various wildlife topics with pictures and identification help included.