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Pine Butte Swamp Preserve

Choteau Montana

Listing Type: Wildlife Refuge
City: Choteau Montana
Region: Central Montana

Pine Butte Swamp Preserve located west of Choteau; is a unique wetland encompassing 18,000 acres along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front managed and protected as a Nature Conservancy Preserve. Well over 150 species of birds, as well as bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, moose, mountain lions and both black and grizzly bears, find forage and shelter within this rare wetland habitat.

Like a giant thumb protruding from the peaks, the Pine Butte Swamp Preserve extends downward from Ear Mountain, taking in limber pine forests, foothills prairie and the swamp. Golden eagles hunt for jackrabbits. Warblers and flycatchers nest in dense shrubs surrounding beaver ponds.

The faulted layers of earth also reveal startling reminders of ancient wildlife. The preserve includes Egg Mountain, where the Maiasaura dinosaur once nested. Fossil hunters discovered a series of small badlands hills that yielded the first known nests of baby dinosaurs, eggshell fragments and whole, fossilized eggs. Jack Horner and Bob Makela, named the adult duck-billed dinosaur unearthed at that location Maiasaura peeblesorum. The first name coming from Greek and meaning 'Good mother lizard' and the second acknowledgment of the Peebles family, the local ranchers who owned the badlands up until 1987, when they sold that portion of their ranch to The Nature Conservancy. The badlands then became a part of the Conservancy's Pine Butte Swamp Preserve.

For a grand wildlife viewing vista, follow the signs to the information board, park and take a short hike up a marked trail overlooking Pine Butte. Hiking areas are limited in other parts of the preserve to protect bears.

Directions: Pine Butte Swamp is located off Highway 89, west of Choteau. From Choteau, drive north on US Highway 89 for 5 miles. Turn west on Teton Canyon Road and follow for 17 miles. Turn south, cross the Teton River, and proceed straight for 3.5 miles following signs to an information kiosk.

Pine Butte Swamp Preserve
The Nature Conservancy of Montana, Helena, MT 59601

  • Dinosaur Dig
  • Bird Watching

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