A recent survey commissioned by WAFWA shows lesser prairie-chicken numbers climbed 25 percent between 2014 and 2015. NRCS photo.
The population of the lesser prairie-chicken is on the rise, according to survey results released last week by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA). Based on aerial surveys, biologists estimate the lesser prairie-chicken numbers about 29,000, a 25 percent increase from 2014.
WAFWA commissioned the annual survey, which showed increases in three of the four ecoregions the bird inhabits. The sand sage prairie region of southeastern Colorado showed the biggest gain with about a 75 percent increase between 2014 and 2015. Read more »
Christian Hagen, science adviser for LPCI, and Bill Barby (right), a Kansas rancher, monitor growth of sand bluestem and other native grasses on his 4,000-acre ranch. NRCS photo.
By Sandra Murphy, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with ranchers and partners to improve habitat for lesser prairie-chicken through the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI). Focusing on privately-owned lands, the initiative covers five western states. About 95 percent of lesser prairie-chicken habitat is located on private lands. Sandra Murphy is communications specialist for LPCI, a partnership led by NRCS. — Justin Fritscher, NRCS
On a late April morning in southwest Kansas, sand bluestem sways over rancher Bill Barby’s head. A medley of other native grasses — little bluestem, sand lovegrass, and prairie sandreed, and more — fill the pasture around him, providing food for his cattle as well as habitat for the lesser prairie-chicken, a threatened species. Read more »
Ranchers who are protecting the lesser prairie-chicken while improving their operations: Tom Turner (left), Glen Mull, and Amy Harter.
A Kansas family and their neighbor are working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to increase habitat for the lesser prairie-chicken—while also benefiting their grazing lands.
Glen Mull and his daughter, Amy Harter, collaborate with Tom Turner to co-manage the grassland they own and the grassland he manages next door. Together, the Mulls and Turner have enrolled roughly 3,000 acres in Edwards and Stafford counties in the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative. Read more »
L.H. Webb, a rancher in Pampa, Texas, addresses the group at the training on his ranch to explain the management practices he has implemented to benefit the lesser prairie-chicken.
Cattle ranchers in the Texas Panhandle are interested in raising more than just cattle and grass. They also want to raise chickens—lesser prairie-chickens, to be exact!
The lesser prairie-chicken is a ground-nesting bird native to the mixed-grass prairies of the Texas panhandle, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Lesser prairie-chickens are known for the unique mating dance performed by the colorful males. Read more »