Greg Laden mentions the plight of the prairie chicken and links to an article in the UW – Madison News. Coincidentally, there was also an article in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the plight of prairie chickens in Missouri and the plight is dire:
The birds began vanishing in Missouri as the prairies where they make their home were plowed under for new housing and commercial developments. More often, though, prairies were lost as farmers converted native prairie grasses to crops.
About 93 percent of the prairie chickens’ original range in Missouri is gone. And the prairie chicken doesn’t appear to be far behind. The bird’s existence signals healthy grasslands, and its demise affects the natural ecosystem.
Aided by a coalition of groups, the state Department of Conservation is trying to increase the prairie chicken population in Missouri by relocating birds from Kansas. Biologists will move roughly 100 birds every year over the next five years to a carefully maintained prairie near El Dorado Springs that is owned by the Missouri chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
Simply put, if the project fails, the prairie chicken will go extinct in Missouri.
Conservation biologists in Missouri are trying to emulate programs from Wisconsin and Minnesota. The plan is to introduce males first, followed in few months by females and chicks. Unfortunately, Missouri biologists have run into a slight problem:
Females are proving more difficult to catch as they “are clearly a lot smarter than the males,” Alleger said.