Study Highlights Connection Between Grassland Birds and Grazing Land

Research by a University of Illinois graduate student explored the linkage between midwestern grassland birds’ population decline and a regional transition from grazing to row crops. John Strauser spent three years looking at how to address the economic, social, and community motivations needed to return marginal lands to forage production in support of wildlife interests. Data collected from farmers and landowners in Illinois and Wisconsin identified barriers to increasing grazing, such as economic pressures, safety concerns of the aging farm population working around livestock, and pressures related to community and social norms. However, local stakeholders also identified opportunities connected with increased grazing, including lower-cost opportunities for young and beginning farmers and income diversification.