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Aerial Surveys Confirm Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population is Holding Steady

The latest lesser prairie-chicken survey shows bird population trends remain stable after six years of aerial survey data collection. The survey indicates an estimated breeding population of 33,269 birds this year, up from 24,648 birds counted last year. Though scientists are encouraged by the numbers, they know that year-to-year fluctuations are the norm with upland birds like the lesser prairie-chicken.

“The survey results indicate a 34% increase in the number of birds, but we don’t read too much into short-term population fluctuations,” explained Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Program Manager. “The monitoring technique used for this survey is designed to track trends which more accurately reflect the amount of available habitat and population stability. The bottom line is that the population trend over the last five years indicates a stable population, which is good news for all involved in lesser prairie-chicken conservation efforts.”

Lesser-prairie chickens can be found in four ecoregions in five states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.  Wildlife biologists note prairie chicken numbers regularly fluctuate up and down from year to year due to changes in habitat conditions mainly influenced by weather patterns. The surveys this year indicated apparent population increases in three of the four ecoregions and range-wide, with an apparent decrease estimated in the fourth ecoregion.

Read more: Aerial Surveys Confirm Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population is Holding Steady

Live-streaming camera offers a glimpse into the lives of desert pupfish

PHOENIX — Those curious about the underwater lives of Arizona’s desert pupfish can tune in to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s newest wildlife live-streaming camera.

The desert pupfish camera is located in the cienega habitat at the Red Mountain Campus of Mesa Community College, which has partnered to conserve this endangered fish and other wildlife species. The cienega pond houses a variety of native wildlife, including Gila topminnows (another endangered fish), long-finned dace, lowland leopard frogs and Sonoran mud turtles.

“Desert pupfish are among our most beautiful native fishes,” said Randy Babb, AZGFD Watchable Wildlife Program manager. “They are well adapted to harsh environments – they can tolerate water with low oxygen levels and salinity three times that of sea water in addition to temperatures exceeding 110 degrees. Part of this project is being done to establish literal gene pools for conservation efforts to ensure these important fishes are not lost to future generations.”

Read more: Live-streaming camera offers a glimpse into the lives of desert pupfish

Western Native Trout Initiative Offers Funding Opportunities for Conservation Projects

The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) and its partners are once again offering opportunities for community organizations to tap into dollars to restore or recover western native trout in the rivers, lakes and watersheds where they are found. The 2017 Small Grants Program Request for Proposals will be accepting applications until June 16, 2017.

The program specifically funds innovative projects that jump-start or complete smaller, high-impact efforts. Projects considered for funding under the Small Grants Program may include riparian or instream habitat restoration, barrier removal or construction, population or watershed assessments needed for prioritization and planning, water leases or acquisitions to improve instream flows, and native trout-focused community outreach and education.  Individual projects can be funded at a maximum of $3,000.

Read more: Western Native Trout Initiative Offers Funding Opportunities for Conservation Projects

Annual report on Lesser Prairie-Chicken released

Lesser Prairie-ChickenWAFWA Reports on 2016 Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan Conservation Progress

On March 31, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service its third annual report detailing achievements under the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan. Among other highlights, WAFWA reported on the purchase of an ecologically significant piece of property in Kansas, which permanently protects nearly 30,000 acres of high-quality lesser prairie-chicken habitat.

The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of the state wildlife agencies of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado and is administered by WAFWA. It was developed to promote conservation by providing a blueprint for lesser prairie-chicken conservation through voluntary cooperation of landowners, land management agencies and industry participants. This plan allows participants to continue operations while restoring and maintaining habitat and reducing development impacts to the bird and its habitat.

Read more: Annual report on Lesser Prairie-Chicken released

Aerial Surveys to Document Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population Trends

Lesser Prairie Chicken(March 7, 2017) - Aerial surveys will begin March 16 and run through mid-May in five states containing lesser prairie-chicken habitat. The surveys are conducted annually by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) to document population trends and how the bird is responding to management strategies identified in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan.

The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken with voluntary cooperation of landowners and industry. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat.

Read more: Aerial Surveys to Document Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population Trends

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