One of the main purposes of restoration ecology is to restore the environment to its natural state. The natural state of an ecosystems has a high biological diversity of native species, that regulate each other so that the maximum amount of ecological niches can be filled.
Below is the wildlife that theres a chance to see on our preservations! The habitat for this fauna is a direct result of decades of restoration work, that could not be achieved without donations and man hours.
White Tailed Deer
White Tailed Deer are extremely common, and the only species of Deer in Illinois. It is very common to spot fresh tracks throughout our preserves especially after a rain! Other signs that deer inhabit an area is trails and deer beds. Unfortunately deer are overpopulated and this can effect their ecosystems. Deer harvests since 2005 have exceeded 200,000 according to the University Of Illinois Extension. Their population grew due to increased edge habitat created by human development. Large continuous preservations help limit edge habitats, however without any natural predators besides the occasional ambitious coyote , deer populations continue to rise.
Fun Fact: The average age for a doe is about 6 years, while the average age for a buck is less than 3.
These voles can be spotted throughout our preserves, often you may find one dart across your path as you walk. Our preserves provide optimal resources and habitat for these little critters , and in turn they provide a food source for our food web as a whole.
Fun Fact: According to an article posted in Brain and Behavior section of Science Magazine , when prairie voles decide to reproduce, their brains get flooded with oxytocin. Oxytocin is known to be the chemical of love, and due to this prairie voles mate for life.
In 1989 Otters were registered as endangered in Illinois, this was largely due to a history of fur trapping, and pollution of their habitats. There was a point where there was less than 100 otters in all of Illinois. According to the Illinois DNR "From 1994 through 1997, 346 otters were captured in Louisiana using small foothold traps and released in southeastern and central Illinois. Thanks to these efforts and expanding populations in nearby states, otters are now common and found in every county in Illinois.". We are proud to say that River Otters have been spotted in our Skokie Preserve.
Fun Fact: A saving grace to the population rebound was old Beaver habitats that become great Otter homes.
The American Woodcock
If you are looking for the American Woodcock in Illinois, Lake County is the best place to search. Lake county has an extremely high population, this can largely be contributed to the restoration efforts that have taken place. The American Woodcock does not like to use older forests for habitat, instead it prefers the shrubby regrowth that is often found after a fire. A large part of Prairie Restoration is prescribing burns, and in turn this provides habitats for many natives like the American Woodcock.
Fun Fact: Their mating display can last 40-60 minutes each evening, and has been recorded to last all night on full moons.
The Coyote, formally known as the prairie wolf, is one of the best indicators of biodiversity because they are a natural predator. Despite their reputation, Coyotes present little threat, just be mindful when with pets. They are a vital component to the ecosystem and should be left alone and respected. Coyotes can be found in nearly any habitat included urban. Farmers should NOT eliminate any Coyotes , instead move their efforts to protecting their livestock. When a Coyote is hunted, the surrounding population will actually increase the size of their litters. Therefore hunting is not a solution and just increases the problem, unless it is a special case where it is necessary.
Fun Fact: Since 1861, 500,000 coyotes have been killed by the government to hamper population growth, as we know today this actually causes more growth. This is a misunderstanding that has cost taxpayers around $30 million, according to The Educational Broadcasting Corp (Livescience).
Great Blue Heron
These birds are typically easy to spot due to their large size, however they stand very still while hunting making them more obscure. They can be spotted in our wetlands hunting amphibians and other inhabitants.
Fun Fact: Great Blue Herons were nearly extinct by the 20th century due to their plumes being used for hats. Luckily this is no longer a concern and the populations are very healthy.
Open Lands Association
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