The Badlands are home to several kinds of herd animals. Mule deer are by far the most common animal to see on a drive through the park, but some visitors may also see white-tailed deer. Visitors should keep their eyes peeled for three less common animals of the Plains: bison, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn.
Inaccurately called antelope, pronghorn is actually the lone surviving member of a family of its own. It is truly a North American animal: its ancestors originated and remained here, unlike most other North American mammals which crossed the Bering Land Bridge or travelled up from South America. Pronghorn are incredibly quick, having been clocked at over 50 miles per hour and maintaining that speed for up to five miles. Their coloration is an adaptation to help them blend into the open prairie.
The bighorns of the Badlands were absent from the view for nearly forty years. The last known bighorn was shot in the South Unit in 1926. In 1964, the park reintroduced sheep in the Pinnacles area and the Sheep Mountain area. In 1996, sheep were relocated from those areas to the Cedar Pass area near park headquarters. Today, your best chances to see these elusive animals are along the Door Trail or Cliff Shelf Nature Trail or at the Pinnacles Overlook. Outstanding climbers and scramblers, bighorn thrive in the steep rocky terrain of the Badlands buttes.
There is no animal more closely linked with America than the bison. Native to the Badlands, bison were gone from this landscape by the 1880s. In 1963, bison were reintroduced into the Sage Creek basin. Due to a fear of the disease brucellosis, Badlands bison are not a free-ranging herd. They are contained within 64,000 acres to keep them from mingling with surrounding cattle herds. (Note: no Badlands bison have ever tested positive for brucellosis, a disease that causes the death of calves during the birth process.) Although their true name is bison, these creatures are more commonly called buffalo, an Anglicized version of the French word for beef. To see bison, you must travel the unpaved Sage Creek Rim Road.
For a list of other mammals species that make Badlands their home see below.
Hayden's Shrew Sorex haydeni Year round Status Unknown Dwarf Shrew Sorex nanus Year round Status Unknown Least Shrew Cryptotis parva Year round Status Unknown
Long-legged Myotis Myotis volans Summer Only Uncommon Northern Motis Myotis septentrionalis Summer Only Status Unknown Western Small-footed Myotis Myotis ciliolabrum Year round Uncommon Little Brown Myotis Myotis lucifugus Year round Uncommon Fringed Myotis Myotis thysanodes Year round Uncommon Silver-haired Bat Lasionycteris noctivagans Year round Uncommon Big Brown Bat Eptesicus fuscus Year round Uncommon Red Bat Lasiurus borealis Year round Uncommon Hoary Bat Lasiurus cinereus Year round Uncommon Townsend's Big-eared Bat Plecotus townsendii Year round Uncommon
Desert Cottontail Sylvilagus auduboni Year round Common Eastern Cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus Year round Uncommon Black-tailed Jackrabbit Lepus californicus Year round Rare White-tailed Jackrabbit Lepus townsendi Year round Uncommon
Least Chipmunk Eutamius minimus Year round Common Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel Spermophilus tridecemlineatusi Year round Common Black-tailed Prairie Dog Cynomys ludovicianus Year round Common Eastern Fox Squirrel Sciurus niger Year round Rare Northern Pocket Gopher Thomomys talpoides Year round Common Plains Pocket Gopher Geomys bursarius Year round Status Unknown Olive-backed Pocket Mouse Perognathus fasciatus Year round Common Hispid Pocket Mouse Perognathus hispidis Year round Uncommon Ord's Kangaroo Rat Dipodomys ordii Year round Uncommon Beaver Castor canadensis Year round Uncommon Plains Harvest Mouse Reithrodontomys montanus Year round Common White-footed Mouse Peromyscus leucopus Year round Uncommon Deer Mouse Peromyscus maniculatus Year round Common Northern Grasshopper Mouse Onychomys leucogaster Year round Common Bushy-tailed Woodrat Neotoma cinerea Year round Common Prairie Vole Microtus ochrogaster Year round Common Meadow Vole Microtus pennsylvanicus Year round Common Muskrat Ondatra zibethica Year round Uncommon House Mouse Mus musculus Year round Common Norway Rat Rattus norvegicus Year round Status Unknown Meadow Jumping Mouse Zapus hudsonicus Year round Status Unknown Porcupine Erethizon dorsatum Year round Common
Coyote Canis latrans Year round Common Swift Fox Vulpes velox Year round Rare Red Fox Vulpes vulpes Year round Uncommon Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus Year round Status Unknown Raccoon Procyon lotor Year round Uncommon Short-tailed Weasel Mustela erminea Year round Status Unknown Long-tailed Weasel Mustela frenata Year round Rare Least Weasel Mustela nivalis Year round Status Unknown Black-footed Ferret Mustela nigripes Year round Rare Badger Taxidea taxus Year round Uncommon Spotted Skunk Spilogale putorius Year round Rare Striped Skunk Mephitus mephitus Year round Uncommon Mountain Lion Felis concolor Year round Rare Bobcat Lynx rufus Year round Uncommon
Mule Deer Odocoileus homionus Year round Uncommon White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus Year round Uncommon Pronghorn Antiocapra americana Year round Common Bison Bison bison Year round Common Bighorn Sheep Ovis canadensis Year round Uncommon