Located in the Upper Midwest, North Dakota is a state of the Great Plains. It features many recreational sites, such as the Missouri River Valley and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. But it also contains various animals, such as buffalo, moose, elk, deer, and antelopes. Undoubtedly, North Dakota is the perfect destination for those who love the great outdoors. Whether a visitor or a permanent resident, you may be curious to learn what unique animals represent the state. Discover the four official state animals of North Dakota, including the state’s other significant symbols.
Some states have an official reptile, marine animal, or amphibian. North Dakota features a state bird, insect, fish, and horse.
1. Western Meadowlark – State Bird
The western meadowlark is a medium-sized songbird belonging to the New World blackbird family. This bird is native to North America, from the Central United States to the West Coast. Along with being the state bird of North Dakota, it is also the state bird of five other states, including Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, and Oregon. North Dakota elected the western meadowlark as one of its state symbols in 1947 due to its prevalence in the region.
These birds are well-known for their distinctive flute-like calls. Part of living in North Dakota is hearing their melodic songs during spring and summer. These meadowlarks breed throughout the state during the warmer months of the year. And you can spot them in open grasslands, prairies, fields, and pastures.
2. Convergent Lady Beetle – State Insect
The convergent lady beetle is one of the most common beetles in North America. Ladybugs are abundant in the state and across the rest of the continent. These bugs are considered helpful creatures because they eat pests like aphids and mites. They are also not harmful to humans, nor do they damage crops. Due to their helpfulness in the agricultural industry, it was an easy decision to name the ladybug the state insect. The Legislative Assembly, along with a local second-grade elementary school class, named the convergent lady beetle the official North Dakota state insect in 2011.
3. Northern Pike – State Fish
The northern pike is a carnivorous fish native to the brackish and freshwaters of North America and Europe. These fish are known to reach up to four feet long and feature spiny fins and pointed heads. The northern pike is somewhat aggressive. This species is an ambush predator that lies in wait before latching onto prey at a remarkable speed. They live in slow-moving streams and shallow areas of lakes and reservoirs. And they are a favorite fish for North Dakotan anglers. In fact, people from all over the country visit the state for pike fishing. Lake Sakakawea is famous for its record-breaking northern-pike catch in 1968. The fish weighed a whopping 37 pounds! It’s no wonder the northern pike was named North Dakota’s state fish in 1969.
4. Nokota Horse – Honorary Equine
The Nokota horse is a feral breed native to North Dakota’s Badlands in the southwest portion of the state. They are believed to be the descendants of the war ponies used by the Sioux chief, Sitting Bull. Nokotas are angular-shaped horses with blue-roan-colored coats and a unique gait. Unfortunately, this breed almost went extinct during the early 20th century when ranchers wanted to reduce livestock grazing. But a conservancy is dedicated to saving them from extinction. These wild horses hold a special place in the hearts of North Dakotans and were named the honorary equine of the state in 1993. Today you can find a few running wild in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Other State Symbols of North Dakota
Check out these other North Dakota state symbols:
- Wild prairie rose – the state flower
- American elm – state tree
- Teredo petrified wood – state fossil
- Western wheatgrass – state grass
- Chokecherry – state fruit
- Milk – state beverage
- The square dance – state dance
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kerry Hargrove/Shutterstock.com
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