Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge

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Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Map showing the location of Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge
LocationSheridan County and Roosevelt County, Montana, United States
Nearest cityGlendive, MT
Coordinates48°28′05″N 104°22′54″W / 48.46806°N 104.38167°W / 48.46806; -104.38167Coordinates: 48°28′05″N 104°22′54″W / 48.46806°N 104.38167°W / 48.46806; -104.38167[1]
Area31,533 acres (12,761 ha)
Governing bodyU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
WebsiteMedicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a 31,533-acre (12,761 ha) National Wildlife Refuge located in the northeastern region of the U.S. state of Montana.[2][3] The refuge is part of the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex which also includes the Northeast Montana Wetland Management District (WMD) and Lamesteer National Wildlife Refuge.[4] Medicine Lake is from the Assiniboine description of the lake, "Bda wauka" (medicine water).[5] The refuge was established in 1935 to protect habitat for various wildlife and especially migratory birds.[4] The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 1980, the Medicine Lake Site was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.[6]


283 distinct bird species have been documented and of these 125 are known to nest on the refuge. The fifth largest colony of American white pelicans, representing 4,000 breeding pairs, has been recorded. In 2003, a whooping crane was photographed on the refuge and is the first documented sighting of this endangered species ever in the state of Montana. There are only an estimated 300 whooping cranes believed to be in existence. There is one endangered and two threatened species of birds known to inhabit the refuge at least seasonally. Mammals such as the black bear, wolverine, moose, mule deer, bobcat, caribou and pronghorn can be found here as well.


Medicine Lake Wilderness is a 11,366-acre (4,600 ha) wilderness area within the refuge that was established in 1976 to provide a higher level of protection to the most remote sections of the refuge.


  1. ^ "Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
  2. ^ Medicine Lake, MT (Map). Topoquest (USGS Quads). Retrieved March 9, 2014.
  3. ^ "Annual Report of Lands Under Control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service" (pdf). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. September 30, 2010. p. 23. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex". U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
  5. ^ Arguimbau, Ellie (July 15, 2009). Montana Place Names from Alzada to Zortman. Montana Historical Society Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0975919613.
  6. ^ "National Natural Landmarks - National Natural Landmarks (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved 2019-03-22. Year designated: 1980

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