Buffalo in the 'Burbs
Buffalo conjure up images of Big Sky country, frontiers and Western movies. So what are they doing in the Chicago suburbs?
They are perhaps one of Chicagoland’s best kept secrets, but a herd of around 45 bison have been a permanent fixture at the Fermilab National Accelerator in Batavia for 40 years, and are now yet another attraction at one of the suburbs’ top wildlife spotting areas.
Fermilab is a physics laboratory surrounded by nearly 7,000 acres of land, and although bashing protons together may have little appeal to most visitors, the site also offers a public art gallery, live music and theater performances and even barn dancing nights.
Much of the Fermilab land has also been restored to native tall-grass prairie, wetlands and woodlands, similar to how the area would have looked 150 years ago. The bison, of course, are carefully managed behind double layers of fencing, but the prairie lands are ideal for spotting wildlife such as white tailed deer and dozens of bird and butterfly species.
The Fermilab grounds are open to the public year round, and visitors are welcome to bird watch, cycle or go snowshoeing in the winter. The buffalo are easy to find, but the security guard at the entrance will be happy to give you a map of the grounds if needed.
- Ian Everett
To learn more about Ian, check out his bio.