This site consists of former surface-mine land (reclaimed 1965-1991) dominated by grasslands of planted cool-season grasses (e.g. fescue, smooth brome, blue grass, etc.), and legumes (e.g. Chinese bush clover, bird's-foot trefoil) with scattered small patches of woodland and numerous lakes and ponds. Autumn olive is invading the grassland areas. It is surrounded by at least twice this amount of similar habitat (AEP Recreation Lands). A significant portion of the site is dedicated to extensive fenced grasslands for exotic open-country animals.

Ornithological Summary

The Wilds provides significant breeding habitat for breeding Henslow's Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, and Grasshopper Sparrow as well as for Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Horned Lark, and Short-eared Owl. 184 species of birds, 30 mammals, 13 reptiles, and 17 amphibians have been recorded on the Wilds.
Wintering raptors are common. Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Short-eared Owl, American Kestrel, and others are present from November through February. Prairie Falcon and Golden Eagle recorded regularly in early 2000s.

Conservation Issues

The Wilds represents the largest wildlife reserve in North America and is an active leader in global wildlife conservation efforts through the research, captive breeding, and maintenance of supplemental populations of rare and endangered exotic wildlife. Osprey re-introduction, cavity-nesting bird management, and salamander habitat management have been implemented. Breeding and management of American burying beetles and hellbenders are currently being developed. The Wilds is active in conservation education and restoration ecology.
Autumn olive is invading the grassland areas. Restoration goals include improving grassland bird habitat through invasive plant removal as well as the introduction of more diverse grasslands through various restoration techniques. Overall, several ecology and restoration biology projects target the creation of an integrated landscape of open grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands that provide high quality wildlife habitat.
Exotic animals, predators.


Owner: The Wilds, see website

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