LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION
This 9,230-acre wildlife area lies in the grain farming country of north-central Ohio, eight miles south of Upper Sandusky. Wyandot County Road 115 provides access from State Route 294, two miles west of Harpster, and from State Route 309, eight miles west of Marion. State Routes 67 and 294 border the area on the west and north.
Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area is quite flat, with little natural drainage; however, land adjacent to the Little Sandusky River on the east edge of the area is quite rolling.
Approximately two-thirds of the area is in cropland and grassland. The other one-third is divided almost equally between woods and shrubby coverts and water. The water areas include more than 1,000 acres of marsh, a 360-acre greentree reservoir, an upground reservoir, and 125 ponds ranging from less than an acre to 50 acres in size. Most small ponds are not shown on the map.
HISTORY AND PURPOSE
Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area is situated in a natural basin of flat, poorly drained soils formerly covered by prairie sloughs. The original prairie spanned about 30,000 acres. Early records report an abundance of deer, waterfowl, and furbearers. The “Plains” eventually were drained, with varying degrees of success, by ditching and tiling. Today, agricultural land around the area is intensively farmed for corn and soybeans. Purchase of land for this area began in 1952.
Wildlife management activities included development and management of several thousand acres of grain crops and grassland, primarily for nesting and migrating grassland wildlife. Trees and shrubs have been planted along field borders and in odd areas to provide permanent cover for upland wildlife. Woods have been protected and improved. Several of the ponds provide fishing opportunities. An 800-acre marsh was constructed in 1966, and the upground reservoir was completed in 1971. All suitable fishing waters were stocked with fish. Waterfowl production was enhanced through the provision of several hundred wood duck nest boxes and Canada goose nesting structures. The greentree reservoir was completed in 1994 with assistance from Ducks Unlimited. Pond 3 has been converted to a moist soil unit for the benefit of waterfowl.
The primary purpose of the wildlife area is for grassland wildlife management and associated recreational use. Uses which have become increasingly popular because of the area’s natural features and open character are nature lore, wildlife photography, and bird watching.
FISH AND WILDLIFE
Several of the ponds have been stocked with largemouth bass, crappies, bluegill, and channel catfish. The upground reservoir has been stocked with largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, perch, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, and bullhead.
Intensive waterfowl management has resulted in peak fall populations of up to 30,000 ducks and 11,000 Canada geese. Wood ducks, mallards, blue-winged and green-winged teal, black ducks, and Canada geese are the primary species of waterfowl that use the area.
The cottontail rabbit and ring-necked pheasant are the most abundant upland game species. Good populations of fox squirrel and white-tailed deer inhabit the area. Raccoon and muskrats are particularly abundant. During the fall migration, sizeable numbers of woodcock use the area.
WATCHABLE WILDLIFE AND UNUSUAL FEATURES
Killdeer Plains is an excellent area for viewing various wildlife species in their natural surroundings. The area is particularly good for bird watching. A great variety of both nesting and migrant birds use the area, depending on the season. Among the more interesting wildlife to be observed are migrating waterfowl, woodcock and snipe, warblers, bald eagles, various grassland nesters such as the bobolink and meadowlark, and various sparrows. The fall migration of hawks such as the red-tailed, rough-legged, and Northern harrier is spectacular. There is also the opportunity to view the migration of monarch butterflies in the fall. During winter, short-eared owls add seasonal variety and interest. Deer are easily viewed in the evenings during any season.
Many species of birds are attracted to the area. Some of the rare birds of interest include the cattle egret, bald and golden eagles, fulvous whistling duck, tundra and trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons, king rail, sandhill crane, American white pelican, and American avocet.
Scattered remnants of the formerly extensive tall-grass prairie can still be found on the area. Fields that have been overgrown with dense brush are being replanted to native prairie species and managed with controlled burning. Prairie dock, grayheaded coneflower, saw-toothed sunflower, and dense blazing star add midsummer color to the remnant prairies. In the fall, big and little bluestem and Indiangrass dominate the landscape. Associated prairie animals include the Eastern massasauga rattlesnake and the rare Eastern Plains garter snake; both are Ohio endangered reptile species.
HUNTING AND FISHING
Upland game species are well distributed throughout the wildlife area as a result of the uniform distribution of crop fields, shrubby coverts, grassland, and woods. After the heavy pressure of early upland game season has subsided, hunting dogs are recommended as the fields are large and cover is extensive. Squirrel hunting is productive in the more than 1,000 acres of woods. The area is also popular for hunting woodcock and deer. The 3,039-acre waterfowl area is a NO TRESPASSING zone and is not open to the public except on a special permit basis.
Productive fishing ponds include 27, 28, 30, and 33; all of the ponds are popular for frog hunting. Spring is the best time to fish, with live bait being the most effective. Grass carp have been stocked in Ponds 30 and 33 for aquatic weed control and must not be removed by anglers.
The most productive methods of fishing the upground reservoir are using live bait, or casting deep running lures over the artificial reefs, spawning shelves, and around the island.
Boats with up to 10 hp outboards may be used on the upground reservoir. Boats with electric motors are permitted on all ponds open to fishing EXCEPT Pond 27.
WATERFOWL HUNTING - SPECIAL REGULATIONS
Waterfowl hunting within the Controlled Waterfowl Area is by special permit only. Hunters are issued a special permit through a daily drawing conducted at the area headquarters during the waterfowl seasons including teal/early goose and the statewide youth season. Drawings are held on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 5:15 am; 6:15 am for the second split of the regular waterfowl season. After the morning drawing, any remaining permits are available through a self serve system. Instructions will be located at the registration area. All permits are valid for the entire hunt day except for units located in pond 27 where they are valid until noon. Permit hunters are assigned a hunting zone and may hunt within that zone only, and only on the day of the drawing. Youth hunting opportunities are heavily promoted. Special youth hunts for deer and waterfowl are conducted annually. Contact the area headquarters or the Wildlife District Two Office for further information.
PUBLIC USE FACILITIES
The Sportsmen’s Service Center was added in 1969 for wildlife related use by the public. A boat ramp is located on the upground reservoir. Pond 33 was renovated and dredged in 2002. These renovations included a boat ramp and floating dock as well as a peninsula to allow anglers access.
Further information may be obtained from: Area Manager, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, 19100 CH 115, Harpster, Ohio 43323; telephone (740) 496-2254 or Wildlife District Two Office, 952 Lima Avenue, Findlay, Ohio 45840; telephone (419) 424-5000.
Regulations are subject to change. Contact the Division of Wildlife for the most current information.
TURN IN A POACHER
Ohio’s TIP, “Turn In a Poacher,” program is helping to curtail poaching throughout the state. TIP is designed to involve the public in reporting wildlife violations. Citizens who observe wildlife violations should call the TIP toll-free hotline, 1-800-POACHER.
Return to list of northwest Ohio wildlife areas.