Habitat & Conservation  |  04/22/2020

Podcast Ep. 68: Prairie Chickens and Public Lands

In this very special episode, host Bob St.Pierre talks with three folks critical to helping create the brand new Cupido Wildlife Management Area as a public property.  The players include Brian Winter from the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society, Rob Baden from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Eran Sandquist from Pheasants Forever. The name “Cupido” references the greater prairie chicken’s Latin name – Tympanuchus cupido – as this 955-acre property adds on to a sprawling 5,450-acre complex protecting some of the best remaining critical habitat for the bird in Minnesota’s northwest corner. 

Episode highlights include:
•    This parcel was identified on the original Minnesota DNR project map in the 1970s as an important tract to protect as critical habitat.  Baden talks about how the DNR and partners have tried four different times over the years to secure the property for the public.  

•    Brian Winter gives a fascinating overview of Minnesota’s prairie chicken history, the bird’s biology, their spring booming ritual, and an explanation for how critical this land acquisition is to the prairie chicken population in Minnesota.  

•    The land sits in the bed of ancient Lake Agassiz, includes 300 acres of native prairie, and is home to some of the state’s largest remaining populations of greater prairie chickens.

•    Sandquist discusses how the landowner approached Pheasants Forever about a land transaction after years of unsuccessful farming and how a partnership formed to bring a grant application in front of Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Council for Legacy Amendment funding.  

•    St.Pierre then explains how this $2 million acre acquisition crossed the finish line with a roster of partners contributing through Pheasants Forever’s Build a Wildlife Area campaign while at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic last February in Minneapolis.