Archive for October 12th, 2009

Lesser Prairie Chicken

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Wildlife Restoration Program

The lesser prairie chicken isn’t endangered, but its getting close. Heather Whitlaw is a wildlife diversity specialist for Texas Parks and Wildlife in the Texas panhandle.

She says, last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services increased the priority of the lesser prairie chicken as a candidate for becoming an endangered species. Since 1998, the lesser prairie chicken has been a number 8 priority.

Then in December, 2008, the Fish and Wildlife Service looked at all the new things going on in prairie chicken range and made the decision that they needed to move that number up to a 2, which indicates to all of us in prairie chicken conservation that we’re very close to a listing.

Whitlaw says some of the new threats in lesser prairie chicken habitat include wind turbines and oil and gas developments.

A nesting lesser prairie chicken, female specifically, perceives a tall structure or a big group of tall structures like wind turbines on the landscape as a threat, maybe something they perceive as where they’re predators might perch.

But as they are slowly pushed off the prairies, the chickens have nowhere else to go.

And because all lesser prairie chickens currently live on private land, researchers are continuing to work with land owners to keep this species from becoming endangered.

That’s our show, made possible with a grant from the Wildlife Program…working to restore wildlife habitat in Texas…For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.