Cook County Coyote Project
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Best Places to See Wildlife in Chicagoland

View CHICAGOLAND in a larger map

Plenty of fun animals live close to cities, suburbs and vacation spots.



Elk Preserve at Busse Woods
A small herd of elk, this town's namesake, roam in a large fenced in pen in Busse Woods. Visitors are scolded not to feed the elk, but often offer the animals carrots. Map »
Illinois Waddle for Great American Basset Rescue
Great American Basset Rescue marches hundreds of bassets down Mazon Avenue. The dogs are part of Dwight's annual Harvest Days festival, which is the third week in September. GABR has rescued more than 3,000 bassets since 1997. Map »
Harold Washington Park Monk Parrots
Monk parakeet nests have been spotted all around the University of Chicago area and Jackson Park.
The parrots living in Harold Washington Park were the ones that convinced the late Mayor Washington, who used to live on the park, to give them a reprieve from state agriculture officials who wanted to exterminate them. Giant nests are easy to spot. Hyde Park Blvd. and 53rd St. Map »
Big Run Wolf Ranch
The Big Run Wolf Ranch is a federally licensed non-profit educational facility. John and Julie Basile, a biology teacher, have rescued wolves, a black bear, a skunk and other animals from death. They now educate the public at school events or special open houses. 
14857 S Farrell Rd, Lockport, IL (815) 588-0044
Map »
Horicon National Wildlife Refuge
The Horicon National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best birding sites in the midwest. Every spring there's the Horican Marsh Bird Festival, which includes tours by boat, bus and foot. In the fall this migration hot spot attracts 200,000 Canada Geese. W4279 Headquarters Rd., Mayville, WI (920) 387-2658
Volo Bog Bat Barn
An old barn at Volo Bog Natural Area is the largest nursery colony of little brown bats in Illinois. About 2,000 fly out at dusk. Summer programs.
28478 West Brandenburg, Ingleside, IL (815)344-1294 Map »
Wolf Park
Wolf behavioral biologist Erich Klinghammer founded Wolf Park in 1972 as a nonprofit to research wolves and educate the public about them.  Wolf Park is open to the public during summer, including Saturday night wolf howls.
4004 E 800 N 1.5 miles north on Jefferson/Harrison Street from State Road 225
Battle Ground, In, (765) 567-2265
Map »

Fermilab Bison

FermiLab, west of Chicago near Aurora, has a small herd of bison on its vast campus. Why? Supposedly to show people how science fits into nature. Likely story. They're just fun. You can visit year-round for free just by showing your ID at the gate.


Batavia Pelicans

Since about the year 2000 white pelicans have been visiting the area around Sugar Grove in the spring for about a month. Up to 300 birds visit, creating a local spectacle. Usually they stay at Nelson Lake in the Dick Young Forest Preserve, but in 2010 they moved to Carson Slough, a few miles to the south.

White Squirrels of Olney
Olney, IL is one of several towns known for its white squirrels. The 200-some Olney squirrels are albino and can be found in Olney City Park and Millers Grove.
To see more animals visit
Olney City Park Office, 502 White Squirrel Cir, Olney, IL (618) 395-1473
Map »
Wild Winds Buffalo Preserves
Wild Winds Buffalo Preserves observes Native traditions and offers tours of their buffalo herds. You drive out to their pasture in a truck. Right off Route 80.
6975 N Ray Rd., Fremont, IN, (260) 495-0137
Map »
River Trail Nature Center
The River Trail Nature Center keeps native wildlife that has been injured and can no longer live in the wild. The population constantly changes. You're likely to see some birds of prey and maybe a fox.
3120 Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook, IL (847) 824-8360

International Crane Center

The International Crane Foundation is the only place in the world where you can see all 15 species of cranes, including the extremely rare Whooping Crane. Since 1976 they've organized the Annual Midwest Sandhill Crane Count.
The center directly helps crane populations with captive breeding and reintroduction programs.
The ICF also supports crane research, promotes education and protects crane ecosystems.
Guided tours are 10, 1, and 3--every day in the summer and on weekends for the two months before and after summer.
E11376 Shady Lane Rd (Just east of Route 12), Baraboo, WI (608) 356-9462

exotic shelter

Black Pine Animal Park

Black Pine Animal Park gives resuced and retired exotic animals a home. They house a large variety of big cats, birds, a few monkeys and bears and even a coati and a kinkajous. Your visit (during the summer) helps pay for the care of these 45 species.
1426 W. 300 N., Albion, IN (260) 636-7383




Wildlife Prairie State Park

Just outside Peoria, the Wildlife Prairie State Park has a lot more for animal watchers than the typical state park. The focus here is on native wildlife. A herd of 18 bison wander a huge enclosure. Big groups of elk and wolves (in their own enclosure) roam, too. They move to a winter pasture so their summer place can recover. Their areas are big, but not so big you can't see them. And the bison come by the viewing stand to get fed.
Cougar, badger, lynx, otter and assorted nonreleasable raptors, including eagles, liver here too.
The park is closed most of the winter, except for members.
3826 N Taylor Rd., Hanna City, IL (309) 676-0998

animal assortment

Critter Camp

Critter Camp takes in all the small odd-ball pets that people get without thinking it through and gives them a permanent sanctuary. You can set up an appointment for up to 6 people and visit 20 ferrets, a kinkajou, fenec fox, degus, parrots, turtles, sugar gliders and everything else. You can either donate or do some volunteer work to visit.
824 Church St., German Valley (near Rockford), IL (815) 266-1342


River Trail Nature Center

The River Trail Nature Center keeps native wildlife that has been injured and can no longer live in the wild. The population constantly changes. You're likely to see some birds of prey and maybe a fox.
3120 Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook, IL (847) 824-8360

weird fish

Peoria Flying Carp

Asian carp, imported to eat algae off catfish in farms down south, broke free and invaded the Mississippi River and its tributaries. These carp, which can weigh up to 100 pounds, eat near the surface and sometimes jump out of the water en masse.
The Fish and Wildlife service recently held a conference on flying carp in Peoria, a known hotspot. Their survey of the Peoria Pool--the Illinois River between s Starved Rock State Park to Illinois River Mile 223--has seen invasive carp numbers climb. In 2007 they found 236 bighead and silver carpand 60 silver “flying” carp jumped in the survey boat.
Around Peoria people have taken to shooting and bowhunting the carp.


Grateful Acres - MI

Grateful Acres Animal Sanctuary is a permanent home for what they call misfit large farm animals, small exotics, parrots, rabbits, chickens, and a tortoise called "Gwennie." On summer weekends the animals get together for a petting zoo.
2108 102nd Ave, Otsego, MI


Lambs Farm

Lambs Farm lets adults with developmental disabilities work at a 72-acre farm campus. Taking care of the animals in the petting zoo is just one of the jobs they learn to do.
14245 W Rockland Rd, Libertyville, IL (847)362-4636


Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve

Wild Winds Buffalo Preserves observes Native traditions and offers tours of their bison herd. They're right off route 80. Cafe also serves bison meat.
6975 N Ray Rd.,
Fremont, IN (260) 495-0137

Sandhill Wildlife Area - WI

The 9,000 acre Sandhill Wildlife Area has a tiny herd of 15 bison in a 260-acre enclosure along the Trumpeter Trail. The original 12 bison were donated by farmer Wallace Grange, who originally owned the land.
Wisconsin manages the herd by selling off 2-4 bison each year.
1715 Hwy X, Babcock, WI, (715) 884-2437

Harold “Hal” Tyrell Trailside Museum
The Harold “Hal” Tyrell Trailside Museum is near  the Cook County Forest Preserve's wildlife rehabilitation facility, where sick, injured or orphaned wildlife are cared for until they can be released.
738 Thatcher Ave. River Forest, IL, (708) 366-6530



Chicago Audubon Listings




Illinois Audubon Society Kane County Audubon
Lake-Cook Audubon Society (N IL Lake County Audubon
Online Guide to Indiana Birding Wisconsin Society for Ornithology




Americans spend far more time and money going to see wildlife than they are hunting it. These are figures about dollars spent in each state on the various animal-related outdoor pastimes. These are the latest figures fom the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which does a survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-related activities every five years.




Fishing % Hunting % Wildlife Watching %
TOTAL U.S. 29,962,000 13 12,534,000 5 71,0068,000 31
1,032,000 11 272,000 3 2,359,000 24
IN 741,000 15 256,000 5 1,824,000 38
WI 1,028,000 24 654,000 15 1,711,000 39



Wildlife Watching
Indiana $630,720,000
Wisconsin $1,661,265,000















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