The Lesser Prairie Chicken

Lesser prairie-chicken

Lesser prairie-chicken. Image courtesy USFWS

This is Passport to Texas

The Lesser Prairie Chicken used to roam many parts of Texas. But over the years, the wide-open grassland prairies they depend on have been greatly reduced by development and land fragmentation.

Lesser Prairie Chickens are important because they are an indicator species on the health of the grasslands.

Brad Simpson is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

When we look at Lesser Prairie Chicken numbers we look at two things. We look at numbers range-wide, because they occur in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. Probably range-wide they are increasing. But when we look at Texas they are probably more stable in the last five years than they ever have been.

There are only two populations of the Lesser Prairie Chicken in Texas, but that’s not the only reason they’re hard to find.

Most people probably have never seen a Lesser Prairie Chicken because they occur on private lands. They are a delicate species that requires a specific habitat, large expanse of grasslands, so maintaining those large tracks of grasslands is critical for their survival.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently performing a species review of the grouse. A status determination is expected in 2021. Until then, management of the Lesser Prairie Chicken will be up to landowner stewardship.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and funds Lesser Prairie Chicken research in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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