It’s become a political football and a punch line in the race for governor.
But state Department of Natural Resources officials are defending a program in which endangered prairie chickens were flown into the state… on a state-owned airplane… in order to boost the species’ numbers.
Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner used chickens in a coop at a news conference last week to blast the program as an example of wasteful spending.
But DNR says no general state tax dollars were used for the program… which is funded by a combination of federal grants and user fees paid by outdoorsmen.
And they say it is helping to increase the population of prairie chickens… which had fallen to fewer than four dozen a few months ago.