Wildlife Area​


Wildlife Area

The foundational property of what is now the Purdue Wildlife Area (PWA) was acquired in 1958, and, with the acquisition of 2 additional tracts, the property now provides 290 acres of land for educational, extension, and research activities in Tippecanoe County. PWA is primarily managed to maintain and enhance its current wetland/savannah/prairie ecosystem which is part of the Indian Creek watershed.

Fire Ecology class pauses for a picture after hands-on prescribed fire training at PWA

Throughout its history, PWA has been central to the education of hundreds of natural resources professionals as well as a center for diverse research activities. Research facilities include a modern animal care facility and a wildlife kennel.

Current Research

Researchers who wish to conduct research at PWA must have their project approved. Please fill out the FNR Property Request (use the FNR property use request ) for approval.

Unique Features

Historically, northwestern Indiana was a complex matrix of tall-grass prairie, wetlands, oak savannah, and woodlands, most of which has been converted for agricultural use. Intact wetland, prairie, and savannah ecosystems, which at one time were abundant, are now especially unique in this region.

A water control structure was installed through the beaver dam which separates the two marshes. The structure allows managers to prevent flooding while allowing the beavers to thrive Wetlands - The most defining characteristic of PWA is its wetlands. Prior to European settlement wetlands covered much of northern Indiana; however, the majority of these have been drained for farming. This makes PWA’s wetlands a unique feature that should be preserved for its benefits to wildlife and to the Indian Creek watershed. PWA’s marshes are emergent marshes typified by water depths of 6 inches to 3 feet. PWA contains 2 wetland marshes that hold water all year (33 acres and 24 acres). There are also several ephemeral wetlands on the property that support wetland-dependent flora and fauna.

    Goal: Enhance and maintain wetlands to benefit migratory waterfowl and other wetland dependent plants and animals

Prescribed fires are used to maintain the prairies. Research concerning the affects of the timing and frequency of prairie burns is currently being conducted at PWA Prairie - PWA is located within the Grand Prairie Natural Region; therefore, a large portion of PWA will be established and/or maintained as native prairie vegetation. Additionally, native prairies are one of the most imperiled ecosystems in Indiana and the eastern United States.

    Goal: To develop and maintain a matrix of interconnected grasslands to provide ample habitat for early successional-specific flora and fauna that were once common in the Grand Prairie Natural Region.

Oak Savannah - Oak Savannah ecosystems once existed in conjunction with Indiana’s prairies, often acting as a gradient between the woodlands and the prairies. Today, because of urban sprawl, agriculture, and fire suppression, intact oak savannahs are nearly gone from the landscape. However, the past land use of PWA has made it possible to restore oak savannahs in some locations. We are now expanding our existing oak savannah by clearing the invasive shrubs and reintroducing native grasses and flowers, creating an oak savannah ecosystem.

    Goal: Establish and maintain oak savannahs, creating a gradient between prairie and woodlands.

WildLife Area
Invasive Species Management:

(1958-2014) – Shortly after Purdue FNR obtained the property, they began planting trees and shrubs to fill in the blank landscape. Many of these plantings remain today. Unfortunately, at that time it was a popular practice to plant exotic species. Bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, multi-flora rose, Amur maple, and many other exotic/invasive species were planted on the property. As we now know, this practice leads to catastrophic results for native species. Eventually the invasive species spread throughout the property and prevented regeneration of native species. The magnitude of the problem wasn’t realized until sometime in the late 1990’s.

(2014-present) – 127.8 acres of heavily invaded acres have been treated and have been or are in the process of being converted to native vegetation.


Property Manager

Brian Beheler
Phone: 765-496-5015
Fax: 765-583-3512
Email: behelerb@purdue.edu

Forestry and Natural Resources, 715 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2061 USA, (765) 494-3590

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