The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to expand a vital prairie chicken habitat in central Wisconsin's Buena Vista Wildlife Area.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board wants to expand Buena Vista's 2,200-acre parcel by acquiring another 80 acres of habitat for the Greater Prairie Chicken, an endangered species. Kris Johansen is the DNR's area wildlife supervisor.
"It's adjacent to property that we already own. It's 80 acres of grassland that's really nice habitat for prairie chickens, and it also has near it a known booming ground."
The "booming ground" Johansen mentions is where prairie chickens gather in the pre-dawn hours each April — where roosters call out to females and fight with each other, dancing, strutting and displaying their bright orange throat sacs.
Johansen says the central Wisconsin grasslands are ground zero for the DNR's efforts to save Wisconsin's struggling population of Greater Prairie Chickens.
"This Buena Vista wildlife area and a number of other wildlife areas are basically the last places we have for prairie chickens remaining in Wisconsin. They are significant. And we have been working to try and add more permanent grassland cover to that area to try and boost their populations and make sure they remain a viable part of the landscape."
The 80-acre parcel will cost $160,000, with $40,000 paid by a federal grant. The purchase from the state's stewardship fund requires the approval of Governor Walker.