The vast space of Agate’s prairie seems empty to some, but a closer look reveals a rich ecosystem of beetles, rabbits, deer, amphibians, snakes and more. Agate is home to a diverse variety of wildlife, though it's not always easy to find. In addition to animals that make their home year round at Agate, there are migratory birds, butterflies and moths as well as carnivores whose large range incorporates the park.
At dusk the park comes to life. Coyotes come out in search of a meal, their yelps and howls filling the quiet nights. Several species of bats inhabit the park and prey on the abundant miller moths. Nighthawks swoop through the air in hopes of catching a mosquito. In the cool hours of the morning, white tail deer, mule deer and pronghorn browse while snapping turtles prowl the waters of the Niobrara in search of young pike and brown trout.
The rich environment of the prairie is dependant upon the people who manage it. The staff at Agate strives to study the landscape and develop a plan to manage the monument to preserve its ecological and cultural history and restore the native prairie habitat.
Text and photo by Kimberly Howard, Biological Technician, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, August 6, 2002.