Woodlands, beaches, hills, rivers, wetlands, and lakes are all part of the landscape of Wisconsin in the United States. With all of these habitats, it’s no wonder there are close to 700 species of wildlife living in this northern-central state. Some of the most well-known animals in Wisconsin include white-tailed deer, red fox, moose, wolves, black bear, robins, and, of course, badgers.
The Official Animal of Wisconsin
In 1957, the American badger was made the official animal of the state of Wisconsin. Though this mammal is small, it can be very dangerous when it feels threatened. This native of Wisconsin has a strong body and powerful muscles in its neck along with sharp teeth. These wild animals are known for their furry black head featuring bright white stripes. The American badger has an IUCN status of Least Concern.
As a note, the white-tailed deer is known as the official wildlife animal of Wisconsin. Officials wanted to recognize this deer because it’s such a common sight around the state. Also, deer hunting plays an important part in the economy of Wisconsin.
Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in Wisconsin
Wisconsin has a number of wildlife parks where visitors can see a variety of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians native to this northern central state.
The type of wildlife a visitor sees in Wisconsin depends on where they travel within the state. Traveling to the marshlands in Wisconsin gives visitors the chance to see red-backed salamanders, snapping turtles, mink frogs, American bullfrogs, five-lined skinks, river otters, beavers, American bitterns, and Sandhill cranes.
Checking out the woodland areas in the state gives visitors the opportunity to see countless mammals including red foxes, raccoons, white-tailed deer, striped skunks, gray squirrels, and cottontail rabbits. Birds including mallards, chestnut-sided warblers, pileated woodpeckers, and bobolinks can also be seen in the woodlands of this state.
Lake Michigan borders Wisconsin and is home to many types of wildlife. Visitors may see trout, bass, walleye, and catfish. Painted turtles are also a common sight. Mammals such as black bears, gray and red foxes, woodchucks, and squirrels can be seen near the shoreline as well.
Recommended locations for wildlife observation include:
- Wisconsin Deer Park
- Buffalo Overlook
- Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
- Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
- Heckrodt Wetland Reserve
Zoos Located in Wisconsin
Visiting a zoo is another way to learn more about wildlife native to Wisconsin and some non-native to the state. Some zoos in the state include:
- Henry Vilas Zoo
- Milwaukee Zoo
- Irvine Park and Zoo
- Racine Zoo
- Lincoln Park Zoo (Manitowoc, WI)
- Menominee Park Zoo
The Most Dangerous Animals in Wisconsin Today
Every state has some dangerous animals among their wildlife population and Wisconsin is no exception. Look at some of the most dangerous animals in the Badger state.
- The first animal on the most dangerous list is surprising. It’s the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). These mammals definitely aren’t fierce, aggressive or poisonous. But, when they try to cross roadways they often end up running or jumping in front of vehicles. Unfortunately, these accidents can cause injuries or even death. According to the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation, there were 18,414 accidents reported involving a vehicle collision with a deer. Out of all of those accidents, 556 people sustained injuries and 9 people died.
- Another animal considered one of the most dangerous in Wisconsin is the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). The thin black legs of this tick give it a weird, spider-like appearance. Though ticks usually attach themselves to dogs and cats, they can also bite humans. Unfortunately, their bite can pass along a life-threatening or chronic disease. Lyme disease is the most common sickness passed along by deer ticks in Wisconsin. From 2015 to 2018, at least ten people died in Wisconsin from diseases contracted from deer ticks.
- Black bears (Ursus americanus) also make the list of most dangerous wildlife in Wisconsin. Though they are rare predators of humans, these large, strong mammals can become aggressive if a person approaches their cubs. Many of the injuries people have received from black bears have come as a result of trying to break up an encounter between one of these bears and a pet dog.
- There are two rattlesnakes on Wisconsin’s most dangerous animals list. One is the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), and the other is the eastern massasauga aka ‘the swamp rattler.’ These are both venomous snakes but are rare predators of anything but rodents. The bite of the Eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) contains a small amount of venom that is not enough to kill a human. Of course, it is powerful enough to kill mice, voles, and other prey. But, while their bite is not deadly, it is painful! The Eastern massasauga is on the Endangered list. Alternatively, the timber rattlesnake’s venom can be powerful enough to kill a person. So, someone who is bitten must get medical treatment right away. There is one reported timber rattler bite every four years in Wisconsin. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a death as a result of this snake’s bite since 1900.
Endangered Animals in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s endangered animals include:
- Sheepnose – This animal with the weird name is a mussel that lives in freshwater rivers and streams. It’s on the endangered list due to habitat loss.
- Karner Blue Butterfly – Though this strange and beautiful butterfly has been endangered since 1992, it’s not extinct. Some zoos are working to increase the population of this rare butterfly by breeding them in captivity and releasing them.
- Eastern Massasauga – This endangered snakes live in the wetlands of Wisconsin. These snakes were once at risk of becoming extinct because they were hunted as pests. Now, though their population is increasing, they are still suffering from habitat loss.
- Whooping Crane – This endangered species disappeared from Wisconsin for several years. But young whooping cranes are now migrating to the state again along with groups of sandhill cranes. Biologists are seeing a slow increase in their population.
- Rusty Patched Bumble Bee – This bee is listed as Critically Endangered because its population has decreased by 87 percent over the last two decades. This decrease in population puts it at risk of becoming extinct. Pesticide usage and habitat loss are two reasons for their decreasing numbers.
Wisconsinite Animals List
Animals in Wisconsin FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What kind of animals live in Wisconsin?
One of the animals living in Wisconsin is known as the American marten. A marten’s small ears and long body make this mammal look like a strange cross between a weasel and a mink. Other mammals in Wisconsin include black bear, white-tailed deer, badgers, red foxes, and snowshoe rabbits. Rodents including mice, voles and moles live in the state.
There are snowy owls that migrate south from above the Arctic Circle to spend the winter in Wisconsin. They are rare predators of anything but lemmings. However, they sometimes capture other rodents such as mice or voles. Other birds include the chestnut-sided warbler, the pileated woodpecker and bobolink among many others.
Wild snakes living in Wisconsin include the timber rattlesnake, the eastern massasauga, the western ribbon snake, and the queen snake. The green treefrog, American bullfrog, the spring peeper and the northern leopard frog are some amphibians that make their home in this northern central state.
What is the most dangerous animal in Wisconsin?
The most dangerous animals in Wisconsin are the white-tailed deer, deer ticks, eastern massasauga, timber rattlesnake, and the black bear.
What animals are unique to Wisconsin?
The hoary bat is unique in that it claims the title as Wisconsin’s biggest bat. This strange nocturnal flier is almost six inches long with a 15.5-inch wingspan. One of Wisconsin’s unique rodents is the Woodland Jumping Mouse. This mouse can jump a distance of over 9 feet using its strong legs, feet, and tail. The northern flying squirrel is one of Wisconsin’s most unique (some say weird) animals because of its ability to glide from tree to tree. This squirrel uses folds of skin attached to its wrists and ankles to ‘fly.’
What’s the biggest animal in Wisconsin?
A moose is the biggest animal in Wisconsin. A moose can grow to a height of 6.5 feet and weigh 1,800 pounds.