A Booming Success: Prairie Chickens and Trail Cameras
What looks like a chicken, lives in the prairie and has one of the most phenomenal displays of courtship in the animal kingdom? You guessed it, the greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)! Earlier this spring, Snapshot Wisconsin teamed up with WDNR biologists in the Buena Vista Grasslands area to implement a prairie chicken trail camera monitoring project in Wisconsin.
In the 1950’s, the greater prairie chicken was close to extinction in the state of Wisconsin. The WDNR, in partnership with conservation groups, established a prairie chicken management program. Every year in early spring, WDNR biologists begin thoroughly surveying known greater prairie chicken lekking grounds to track population size and locations of leks. The protection and monitoring of the species has helped the comeback of the prairie chicken in Wisconsin. Currently, a few thousand chickens can be found in the central part of the state.
This year, Snapshot Wisconsin deployed 15 cameras to help supplement monitoring efforts. Trail cameras can efficiently and continuously survey known lekking grounds to count peak numbers of males at each lek.
The team had a blast deploying trail cameras at lekking grounds. For those of you who own trail cameras, you may be familiar with the walk test. In the chicken camera test, we ended up crawling to test if a chicken would be detected on camera. This resulted in a lot grass in our clothes and an equal amount of laughter.
For more information on Wisconsin’s prairie chickens check out this link.