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Iconic Upland Gamebird Fading from the Wild and from Hunters' Minds

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October 05, 2012

Iconic Upland Gamebird Fading from the Wild and from Hunters' Minds

By Chad Love

Lesser prairie chickens are in big trouble. They were—at one time—the most important and probably most numerous gamebird on the southern and central plains. They numbered in the millions and rivaled the bobwhite quail in both numbers, popularity and cultural tradition. Everyone on the southern plains hunted chickens. These days, few hunters are familiar with them. And their decline is probably the most interesting and ultimately tragic upland game conservation story no one has ever heard of.

All the usual suspects are to blame: habitat loss, climate change, booming energy development of both the wind and gas varieties—all have played a part. For example, grasslands are being converted for agricultural production at an absolutely stunning pace. But it's not only these factors. There is also the issue of non-awareness among hunters. The lesser prairie chicken, like most prairie gamebirds, has been on a well-charted long, slow multi-decade decline. Much like the chickens themselves, those who grew up hunting chickens are becoming fewer each year. Coincide that with the fact there are simply fewer new or younger hunters out there now who hunt any upland birds and you start chasing the demographic dragon.

I grew up always wanting to hunt lessers, but by the time I got around to actually attempting it, Oklahoma's chicken season was history due to the continued decline of chicken numbers and chicken hunters. This formerly popular and populous prairie gamebird effectively reduced to the status of recreational extinction.

I've been to a number of regional stakeholder meetings about the lesser prairie chicken, and by and large, hunters aren't really represented at these meetings. It amazes me that we're on a precipice, the very edge of losing an iconic species and no one really knows about it. And part of that ignorance, I think, stems from the fact that no one really knows just how few lesser prairie chickens are left.

So it was with a great deal of interest that I read a press release yesterday that, for the first time, put an empirical number, a baseline on the current number of lesser prairie chickens left in the wild.

From a press release from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
The lesser prairie chicken is an iconic grassland grouse species native to parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. However, long-term population declines have brought state and federal agencies together in an attempt to better manage lesser prairie chickens and their habitats. Through a multi-state collaborative effort, the first statistically-valid, range-wide population estimate for the lesser prairie chicken has been produced, according to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' (WAFWA) Grassland Initiative. The range- wide lesser prairie chicken population is estimated at 37,170 individuals. ...

... While the lesser prairie chicken population estimate may appear low, biologists are encouraged by what they found. The surveys this spring detected several previously unknown leks, despite severe drought conditions across the region last year. They also discovered leks in Kansas beyond what was thought to be the northern limit of the historic range of the species. Lesser prairie chicken numbers have been largely increasing in Kansas for the last 15 years, while populations have declined in parts of the southern portion of the range. Biologists believe this expansion may represent a northward shift in the population of the species caused by climatic conditions associated with changing precipitation patterns.

"Historically, we saw habitat conditions like we are observing now in the 1930s, and we thought the species went extinct", said Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA Grassland Coordinator. "However, with habitat conservation programs being implemented through various Farm Bill programs and Candidate Conservation Agreements under the Endangered Species Act, we are seeing lesser prairie chickens maintaining themselves and even expanding into new areas in some parts of their range. This definitely boosts our confidence in coming up with a plan to maintain this species", concludes Van Pelt. The final survey report is available at http://www.wafwa.org/html/aerial_surveys.shtml.

So at least now we know. From literally millions to some 37,000 birds hanging on at the very margins of sustainability. It is, I suppose, cause for both hope and despair.
 
The lesser prairie chicken's survival parallels another historically significant and once-populous species that recently made the news: the greenback cutthroat trout. Turns out the fish many of us thought were native greenbacks are in fact a different strain of fish, according to Kirk Deeter's recent FlyTalk blog. I found the story incredibly poignant. To think that the entire remaining population of true native greenbacks can now be found in one tiny creek. That's it, no more, anywhere.

Now there''s the possibility of no more greenbacks and lesser prairie chickens. The similarity in the arcs of their respective stories, is sadly telling. But at least now, with both species, we know exactly what we have to work with, and what we need to do. Here's hoping we actually do it.

CC image from Wikipedia

Comments (24)

Top Rated
All Comments
from blevenson wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

The MN DNR is trying to bring them back and we have enough in the state now that we tags that you can apply for. I have never hunted them but I certainly would like to tag my two in the future. Hopefully we can bring this species back to decent numbers where we don't have to have a tag to shoot one.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I sure am not familiar with that bird, BUT, I sure saw an enormous amount of Sage Hens just last week. Flocks flying across in front of me like a flock of ducks. And I jumped several other big covies of Sage Hens hunting sharpies that I scored a limit of 2 on. My deal is if these birds take an enormous amount of land, and no roads cutting through the land, then they are doomed. We can not have economic growth which we desperately need right now, or this country is going under, and have a species that needs a small state worth of land unimpared in order to survive. And that happens in nature...win some lose some.

-6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I'm surprised there isn't a conservation organization for the Lesser Prarie Chickens. I think Pheasants and Quail might be more endangered if it weren't for the efforts of Pheasants Forever and Quail Unlimited and the programs they brought about.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dbenear1985 wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I am from Kansas in the southwest part of the state. When i was a kid we used to see prarie chickens regularly. When quail and pheasant hunting we would usually get a few of them. Now your lucky to even here anyone talk about them. The quail numbers are also on the decline. But if you ever hear of a lek close by it is well worth the trip to see the prairie chickens do there dance. Hopefully we can somehow figure out how to get their numbers back up so everyone can enjoy this unusual looking bird.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

How close a relative are these Prairee Chickens to the Sage Grouse that I've been seening in great numbers? The Sage Grouse has leks, and does the mating ritual just like these Prairee Chickens. We can take a bus ride out to these Leks every year, and watch the rituals.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Alex Grimaudo wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Clincknot, what we need to do is not concern ourselves with what is best for our economy and blow off the lessers--what we need to do is find a way to coexist with the animal in a way that is beneficial to both of our species. This could be done by offering farmers subsidies in exchange for transforming parcels of their land into prime lesser prarie chicken habitat. If we could get enough farmers to do this, we could fight the loss of habitat.

That's what it's all about: habitat. The main goal of the conservation of this animal needs to be about restoring habitat by working with landowners in managing their lands to be beneficial to this declining species. Furthermore, groups of concerned citizens could pool money together to purchase previously developed land such as mines and farms in order to restore them to their former, natural glory. That is how organizations get started--with concerned citizens. The government is not the driving force in conservation, the people are.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Oh, but Alex...connect the dots. A bad economy means a trashed environment, and that is a fact. When you have 23,000,000 folks out of work, many of them have given up, the poaching increases greattly, Trash gets deposited in the environment rather than pay the trash bill. Needed environmental projects go UNFUNDED!..and that becomes an environmental disaster. What we need is for you to understand that, and creating a bad economy, which is what we have done, destroys the environment. You really think that families that can not feed themselves give one hoot about the environment if they can violate it, and sustain themselves? Talk is cheap...whiskey costs money, and we had better get back on the right course quickly.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Only a fool would imagine that growth can be a permanent characteristic of our economy, and only a bigger fool would write off good hunting land and the last great undeveloped expanses in pursuit of it. Sustainable use is the ONLY reasonable model for future economic success.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I guess praire chickens are not "cute" or "noble" enough for the true conservationists to take notice since they are so busy crying about the wolves.

I also belive that there is a direct correlation in the decline in hunter interest in upland game and the increase in whitetail deer antler envy.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Alex Grimaudo wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

@Clinchknot

A bad economy does not mean a trashed environment. If we wait for the economy to be perfect, then we will never start protecting the environment. Many developing countries have looked to the ecotourism industry to aid in their country's dwindling economy. The same can work here. Yes, more and more people are losing jobs every day, but those people could also find work in ecostourism if more of the national and state budgets were put towards creating National and State parks. National parks currently employ 16,000 people, and they hire 10,000 people annually. And those are ONLY national parks. If we throw all the state parks into the mix, a lot more jobs are provided.

Also, few are the people that decide to pick up a gun and poach wildlife instead of applying for food stamps and the WIC program. In addition, the majority of low-income families do not live in locations where the natural world is readily available to rape and destroy; most live in highly urbanized areas in which the trash is disposed of pretty efficiently instead of dumping it in forests and valleys. And I don't see them poaching the lesser prairie chicken that is clearly native to city streets.

Also, only government run environmental projects get REDUCED funding. Grassroots organizations like those featured in every issue of F&S magazine still run efficiently despite the lack of government funding. That's because people care about the environment, and when people care about something, they fund organizations that represent their interests...in this case the grassroots conservation programs. That's the problem with that way of thinking: you rely to much on the government to clean up the mess WE make. Why should the government be responsible for that, when we can clean up the mess ourselves. Government was never meant to be the only driving force in fixing every one of our problems, we need to be responsible for doing that ourselves instead of whining to big brother to fix the problem.

I really don't see how families that are suffering financially violate the environment...if you can give me an example in which poor people have destroyed forests and praries for food and diapers, let me know. But MORE often, people just rely on government support to aid in their financial woes, NOT the environment.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Alex Grimaudo wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Mike, I agree with you 100%

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jnelson64 wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

@ blevenson, I may be mistaken but I'm pretty sure MN only has the greaters, not the lessers. Either way both declining and both need our help, along with many other species not "cute" enough.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dale freeman wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I think that sometimes we get overwhelmed.
Save this, save that, politics, politicians, employment,etc.,
What's the answer.
Me, I'm discombobulated.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Anyone that believes a bad economy like we are experiencing...when thousands of middle class folks are thrown into poverty status is a dillusional liberal environmentalist period if they don't think it greatly influences the environment. Growth is a necessary fact. You libs want to put mankind at the bottom of the food chain. People will do what they have to do to survive. If they can not afford to follow the rules, and pay for regulations, they will violate them. Remember we do have recessions on a regular bases, and economies decline, but they have to rebound through growth...and that is a fact. The ave. recession decline lasts 6 to 9 mo. then grows back. This one we are in?...4 years and counting.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Anyone who thinks that our current bad economy is because of domestic conservation rules is a blade shy of a sharp edge. We have massive debt and massive unemployment solely because the US taxpayer is on the hook for 90% of the world's defense spending, the primary purpose of which is to make the world a safe, stable place to offshore American jobs.

End the policy of securing the world's access to oil, and end the policy of defending other nations that refuse to defend themselves, and we the result will be that we can eliminate the debt in ten years; the consequential destabilization of foreign lands will result in the movement of jobs to the USA.

Problem solved.

Environmental protection laws didn't have a thing to do with the current economic crises, and gutting environmental protection laws may serve the interests of the Communist Chinese and their accomplices in the USA, but it won't do anything for the US economy.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Anyone who thinks that our current bad economy is because of domestic conservation rules is a blade shy of a sharp edge. We have massive debt and massive unemployment solely because the US taxpayer is on the hook for 90% of the world's defense spending, the primary purpose of which is to make the world a safe, stable place to offshore American jobs.

End the policy of securing the world's access to oil, and end the policy of defending other nations that refuse to defend themselves, and we the result will be that we can eliminate the debt in ten years; the consequential destabilization of foreign lands will result in the movement of jobs to the USA.

Problem solved.

Environmental protection laws didn't have a thing to do with the current economic crises, and gutting environmental protection laws may serve the interests of the Communist Chinese and their accomplices in the USA, but it won't do anything for the US economy.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Meanwhile, Romney wants to increase defense spending by 2 trillion and not a peep from clinchknot about that.

This is the reality of the new GOP. Seriously. These short-sighted cuts and calls for de-funding simply serve to energize their supporters and give their loyalists hard ons. That's all. It's a red herring. Just like their calls to defund PBS and other minor programs. For the record, the LA Times stated that the total amount of subsidies PBS is given is equal to about 6 hours of spending at the Pentagon.

Same deal with cuts to conservation programs: mere pennies in the grand scheme of things. None of which will do a damn thing to reduce our debt. I'm in total agreement with Mike here.

Anyone else read about Congressman Pearce basically mocking Teddy Roosevelt's legacy and calling for Romney to "reverse this trend of public ownership of lands.” A position Romney seems to be in agreement with.

Bring back Jon Huntsman.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Deil. For first sentence. I can't get by that statement. Not in total, no, but on that side of the fence comes the obstructionist fossil fuel stoppage that supplies the energy needed to create jobs, and grow the economy. Billions of tax payer money was thrown away on a corrupt, green energy policy that produced bankrupt co.'s and tax payer money given to liberal, very rich contributors! And that is just one example! And defense? Hope you don't want to discuss the totally failed national defense policy of appeasment to Radical Muslims that want to kill us, and now the trouble in the world because of that policy, and the lies, blatant lies as to the terrorist attack on our Lybia Embassy, and the folks killed BECAUSE Obama would not provide them protection when they asked for it knowing there was a good chance they would be attacked! Obama wanting to convey the impression his policy of "normalization" in the Muslim world was working! AS bad of corruption, and deception as this country has ever had!..and Congress is dealing with the lies right now as I type!

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Fairly easy to see the posters like Diel and this REal Good Man...why they jump on conservation issues. What a sorry state of affairs, and the bad reputation someone gets when they identify themselves as a "conservationist" People strongly question if you are a socialist, a far leftist, when everyone should want, and private business minded folks for sure want good conservation policy. It produces profits if it isn't just designed to punish business, and kill job creation.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Clinchie --

You do not understand the economy if you think that fossil fuel extraction for the purpose of exporting energy to China will create more American jobs.

Let's start with a concept. It's called "Mercantilism." It was the underlying economic policy of the colonial powers from the 16th through early 20th centuries.

The basic idea of mercantilsm is the extraction of assets from colonized nations. These assets include raw materials (like ore, wood, silk, cotton) commodities of great domestic demand back home that are otherwise not obtainable at home (like spices, tea) and wealth (gold, silver, gems, fine arts).

The way it works is that you either force or dupe colonized populations into trashing their natural resources, paying them low wages, and you export those materials to your own country. Then you use those materials to make value added goods that you can sell to your own population and also export. Making value added goods requires skilled labor and grows the middle class.

In the past, this was accomplished by force. Hence phrases like "Nueva Espana" and "The Sun Never Sets in the British Empire" and "Gunboat Diplomacy." The last great tranch of FORCIBLE application of this model was during WW2 (to wit, Imperial Japan).

Nations no longer need force, however, if you can dupe the gullible or the malign into volunteering for that kind of relationship. America has, by and large, been duped. So our biggest export by volume is recyclable paper. Our biggest export by weight is coal. We mine copper in the western states, but we don't even process the hard rock (smelted) ore here; we send it to China. We let Canadian corporations glean the profits. The only ore we process here are the sulfide ores. We do this by pouring massive amounts of hydrochloric acid on the sulfate ores, leach out the muck, and chemically reprocess the solution back into acid and metal. We look the other way while the acids and the unwanted by-products (cyanide, among others) seep into ground waters.

This is a MERCANTILE system that benefits a few corporate profiteers and benefits the People's Republic of China. YOU are defending a system put in place by the Central Planning Committee of the World's Most Populist Communist Nation. And you dare to imply others give "conservation" a "red tint"? Look in the mirror buddy; Chairman Mao's Institutions Love YOU.

To BUST that cycle the only way you can do it is to move the value-added jobs to the USA. Strip mining the United States on behalf of Canadian corporateers and the Chicoms is NOT going to grow America's economy. It's not even going to hold the line. Your formula is a formula for failure. Period.

Man up dood. Every other industry in the USA was told to just live with the new times when the steel industries and the manufacturing industries contracted. Do you imagine that you in particular deserve some sort of special protection for your job -- where everyone else has been told to learn new skills -- even if it means crapping in your neighbor's well? That is both selfish and a recipe for national suicide.

So grow some brass ones and start shaping your mind around real solutions. Ones that don't involve selling out all the rest of America for a fast dollar.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from jaukulele wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Unfortunately, we can't have our cake and eat it, too. That doesn't mean that we can't do more initial research to find out a great deal of the consequences before we develop things like 100'+ tall wind turbines directly in the habitat of birds that are afraid of 3'-4' fence rows. Americans love that money, though, and it costs money to research future consequences, takes time that could be spent making money, and, often, reveals answers that are not conducive to making money.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

People love making money, for sure. As do I of course. They also like to waste it too. We hate our hard earned dollar going to taxes, but then we waste it on lottery tickets. Never got that. We despise the gov't taking money out of our paychecks for the greater good. But then we'll essentially do it on our own and voluntarily re-destribute the wealth to make a few random people filthy rich. Can't help but think that wasted money could go to better use.

Can't we come up with some sort of duck stamp scratch off ticket?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

And yes, I realize not all taxes go to the "greater good." I don't mind paying taxes that go to beneficial and just programs. That sure as hell doesn't mean I support pork barrel spending, fossil fuel subsidies and subsidizing some tub of lard idiot's healthcare because they chose to scarf down a lifetime's amount of fast food and soda and then can't afford their hospital bills. But that doesn't stop those Center for Consumer Freedom dopes that think they're doing their patriotic duty by living like slobs.

Rather than end this post on a sour note. Earlier this summer I was at a local farmer's market and saw a mother with her 2 children paying for her locally-grown produce using food stamps. We need more of those and less of the ones that use that money at the bodega for vegetables from Peru, bags of chips and a pack of cigs.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Right on RGM.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Alex Grimaudo wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Clincknot, what we need to do is not concern ourselves with what is best for our economy and blow off the lessers--what we need to do is find a way to coexist with the animal in a way that is beneficial to both of our species. This could be done by offering farmers subsidies in exchange for transforming parcels of their land into prime lesser prarie chicken habitat. If we could get enough farmers to do this, we could fight the loss of habitat.

That's what it's all about: habitat. The main goal of the conservation of this animal needs to be about restoring habitat by working with landowners in managing their lands to be beneficial to this declining species. Furthermore, groups of concerned citizens could pool money together to purchase previously developed land such as mines and farms in order to restore them to their former, natural glory. That is how organizations get started--with concerned citizens. The government is not the driving force in conservation, the people are.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Only a fool would imagine that growth can be a permanent characteristic of our economy, and only a bigger fool would write off good hunting land and the last great undeveloped expanses in pursuit of it. Sustainable use is the ONLY reasonable model for future economic success.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Meanwhile, Romney wants to increase defense spending by 2 trillion and not a peep from clinchknot about that.

This is the reality of the new GOP. Seriously. These short-sighted cuts and calls for de-funding simply serve to energize their supporters and give their loyalists hard ons. That's all. It's a red herring. Just like their calls to defund PBS and other minor programs. For the record, the LA Times stated that the total amount of subsidies PBS is given is equal to about 6 hours of spending at the Pentagon.

Same deal with cuts to conservation programs: mere pennies in the grand scheme of things. None of which will do a damn thing to reduce our debt. I'm in total agreement with Mike here.

Anyone else read about Congressman Pearce basically mocking Teddy Roosevelt's legacy and calling for Romney to "reverse this trend of public ownership of lands.” A position Romney seems to be in agreement with.

Bring back Jon Huntsman.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Clinchie --

You do not understand the economy if you think that fossil fuel extraction for the purpose of exporting energy to China will create more American jobs.

Let's start with a concept. It's called "Mercantilism." It was the underlying economic policy of the colonial powers from the 16th through early 20th centuries.

The basic idea of mercantilsm is the extraction of assets from colonized nations. These assets include raw materials (like ore, wood, silk, cotton) commodities of great domestic demand back home that are otherwise not obtainable at home (like spices, tea) and wealth (gold, silver, gems, fine arts).

The way it works is that you either force or dupe colonized populations into trashing their natural resources, paying them low wages, and you export those materials to your own country. Then you use those materials to make value added goods that you can sell to your own population and also export. Making value added goods requires skilled labor and grows the middle class.

In the past, this was accomplished by force. Hence phrases like "Nueva Espana" and "The Sun Never Sets in the British Empire" and "Gunboat Diplomacy." The last great tranch of FORCIBLE application of this model was during WW2 (to wit, Imperial Japan).

Nations no longer need force, however, if you can dupe the gullible or the malign into volunteering for that kind of relationship. America has, by and large, been duped. So our biggest export by volume is recyclable paper. Our biggest export by weight is coal. We mine copper in the western states, but we don't even process the hard rock (smelted) ore here; we send it to China. We let Canadian corporations glean the profits. The only ore we process here are the sulfide ores. We do this by pouring massive amounts of hydrochloric acid on the sulfate ores, leach out the muck, and chemically reprocess the solution back into acid and metal. We look the other way while the acids and the unwanted by-products (cyanide, among others) seep into ground waters.

This is a MERCANTILE system that benefits a few corporate profiteers and benefits the People's Republic of China. YOU are defending a system put in place by the Central Planning Committee of the World's Most Populist Communist Nation. And you dare to imply others give "conservation" a "red tint"? Look in the mirror buddy; Chairman Mao's Institutions Love YOU.

To BUST that cycle the only way you can do it is to move the value-added jobs to the USA. Strip mining the United States on behalf of Canadian corporateers and the Chicoms is NOT going to grow America's economy. It's not even going to hold the line. Your formula is a formula for failure. Period.

Man up dood. Every other industry in the USA was told to just live with the new times when the steel industries and the manufacturing industries contracted. Do you imagine that you in particular deserve some sort of special protection for your job -- where everyone else has been told to learn new skills -- even if it means crapping in your neighbor's well? That is both selfish and a recipe for national suicide.

So grow some brass ones and start shaping your mind around real solutions. Ones that don't involve selling out all the rest of America for a fast dollar.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

And yes, I realize not all taxes go to the "greater good." I don't mind paying taxes that go to beneficial and just programs. That sure as hell doesn't mean I support pork barrel spending, fossil fuel subsidies and subsidizing some tub of lard idiot's healthcare because they chose to scarf down a lifetime's amount of fast food and soda and then can't afford their hospital bills. But that doesn't stop those Center for Consumer Freedom dopes that think they're doing their patriotic duty by living like slobs.

Rather than end this post on a sour note. Earlier this summer I was at a local farmer's market and saw a mother with her 2 children paying for her locally-grown produce using food stamps. We need more of those and less of the ones that use that money at the bodega for vegetables from Peru, bags of chips and a pack of cigs.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from dbenear1985 wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I am from Kansas in the southwest part of the state. When i was a kid we used to see prarie chickens regularly. When quail and pheasant hunting we would usually get a few of them. Now your lucky to even here anyone talk about them. The quail numbers are also on the decline. But if you ever hear of a lek close by it is well worth the trip to see the prairie chickens do there dance. Hopefully we can somehow figure out how to get their numbers back up so everyone can enjoy this unusual looking bird.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Anyone who thinks that our current bad economy is because of domestic conservation rules is a blade shy of a sharp edge. We have massive debt and massive unemployment solely because the US taxpayer is on the hook for 90% of the world's defense spending, the primary purpose of which is to make the world a safe, stable place to offshore American jobs.

End the policy of securing the world's access to oil, and end the policy of defending other nations that refuse to defend themselves, and we the result will be that we can eliminate the debt in ten years; the consequential destabilization of foreign lands will result in the movement of jobs to the USA.

Problem solved.

Environmental protection laws didn't have a thing to do with the current economic crises, and gutting environmental protection laws may serve the interests of the Communist Chinese and their accomplices in the USA, but it won't do anything for the US economy.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Anyone who thinks that our current bad economy is because of domestic conservation rules is a blade shy of a sharp edge. We have massive debt and massive unemployment solely because the US taxpayer is on the hook for 90% of the world's defense spending, the primary purpose of which is to make the world a safe, stable place to offshore American jobs.

End the policy of securing the world's access to oil, and end the policy of defending other nations that refuse to defend themselves, and we the result will be that we can eliminate the debt in ten years; the consequential destabilization of foreign lands will result in the movement of jobs to the USA.

Problem solved.

Environmental protection laws didn't have a thing to do with the current economic crises, and gutting environmental protection laws may serve the interests of the Communist Chinese and their accomplices in the USA, but it won't do anything for the US economy.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jaukulele wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Unfortunately, we can't have our cake and eat it, too. That doesn't mean that we can't do more initial research to find out a great deal of the consequences before we develop things like 100'+ tall wind turbines directly in the habitat of birds that are afraid of 3'-4' fence rows. Americans love that money, though, and it costs money to research future consequences, takes time that could be spent making money, and, often, reveals answers that are not conducive to making money.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

People love making money, for sure. As do I of course. They also like to waste it too. We hate our hard earned dollar going to taxes, but then we waste it on lottery tickets. Never got that. We despise the gov't taking money out of our paychecks for the greater good. But then we'll essentially do it on our own and voluntarily re-destribute the wealth to make a few random people filthy rich. Can't help but think that wasted money could go to better use.

Can't we come up with some sort of duck stamp scratch off ticket?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from blevenson wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

The MN DNR is trying to bring them back and we have enough in the state now that we tags that you can apply for. I have never hunted them but I certainly would like to tag my two in the future. Hopefully we can bring this species back to decent numbers where we don't have to have a tag to shoot one.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I'm surprised there isn't a conservation organization for the Lesser Prarie Chickens. I think Pheasants and Quail might be more endangered if it weren't for the efforts of Pheasants Forever and Quail Unlimited and the programs they brought about.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Alex Grimaudo wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

@Clinchknot

A bad economy does not mean a trashed environment. If we wait for the economy to be perfect, then we will never start protecting the environment. Many developing countries have looked to the ecotourism industry to aid in their country's dwindling economy. The same can work here. Yes, more and more people are losing jobs every day, but those people could also find work in ecostourism if more of the national and state budgets were put towards creating National and State parks. National parks currently employ 16,000 people, and they hire 10,000 people annually. And those are ONLY national parks. If we throw all the state parks into the mix, a lot more jobs are provided.

Also, few are the people that decide to pick up a gun and poach wildlife instead of applying for food stamps and the WIC program. In addition, the majority of low-income families do not live in locations where the natural world is readily available to rape and destroy; most live in highly urbanized areas in which the trash is disposed of pretty efficiently instead of dumping it in forests and valleys. And I don't see them poaching the lesser prairie chicken that is clearly native to city streets.

Also, only government run environmental projects get REDUCED funding. Grassroots organizations like those featured in every issue of F&S magazine still run efficiently despite the lack of government funding. That's because people care about the environment, and when people care about something, they fund organizations that represent their interests...in this case the grassroots conservation programs. That's the problem with that way of thinking: you rely to much on the government to clean up the mess WE make. Why should the government be responsible for that, when we can clean up the mess ourselves. Government was never meant to be the only driving force in fixing every one of our problems, we need to be responsible for doing that ourselves instead of whining to big brother to fix the problem.

I really don't see how families that are suffering financially violate the environment...if you can give me an example in which poor people have destroyed forests and praries for food and diapers, let me know. But MORE often, people just rely on government support to aid in their financial woes, NOT the environment.

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from Alex Grimaudo wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Mike, I agree with you 100%

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from Jnelson64 wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

@ blevenson, I may be mistaken but I'm pretty sure MN only has the greaters, not the lessers. Either way both declining and both need our help, along with many other species not "cute" enough.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Right on RGM.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

How close a relative are these Prairee Chickens to the Sage Grouse that I've been seening in great numbers? The Sage Grouse has leks, and does the mating ritual just like these Prairee Chickens. We can take a bus ride out to these Leks every year, and watch the rituals.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I think that sometimes we get overwhelmed.
Save this, save that, politics, politicians, employment,etc.,
What's the answer.
Me, I'm discombobulated.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Oh, but Alex...connect the dots. A bad economy means a trashed environment, and that is a fact. When you have 23,000,000 folks out of work, many of them have given up, the poaching increases greattly, Trash gets deposited in the environment rather than pay the trash bill. Needed environmental projects go UNFUNDED!..and that becomes an environmental disaster. What we need is for you to understand that, and creating a bad economy, which is what we have done, destroys the environment. You really think that families that can not feed themselves give one hoot about the environment if they can violate it, and sustain themselves? Talk is cheap...whiskey costs money, and we had better get back on the right course quickly.

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from elkslayer wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I guess praire chickens are not "cute" or "noble" enough for the true conservationists to take notice since they are so busy crying about the wolves.

I also belive that there is a direct correlation in the decline in hunter interest in upland game and the increase in whitetail deer antler envy.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Anyone that believes a bad economy like we are experiencing...when thousands of middle class folks are thrown into poverty status is a dillusional liberal environmentalist period if they don't think it greatly influences the environment. Growth is a necessary fact. You libs want to put mankind at the bottom of the food chain. People will do what they have to do to survive. If they can not afford to follow the rules, and pay for regulations, they will violate them. Remember we do have recessions on a regular bases, and economies decline, but they have to rebound through growth...and that is a fact. The ave. recession decline lasts 6 to 9 mo. then grows back. This one we are in?...4 years and counting.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Deil. For first sentence. I can't get by that statement. Not in total, no, but on that side of the fence comes the obstructionist fossil fuel stoppage that supplies the energy needed to create jobs, and grow the economy. Billions of tax payer money was thrown away on a corrupt, green energy policy that produced bankrupt co.'s and tax payer money given to liberal, very rich contributors! And that is just one example! And defense? Hope you don't want to discuss the totally failed national defense policy of appeasment to Radical Muslims that want to kill us, and now the trouble in the world because of that policy, and the lies, blatant lies as to the terrorist attack on our Lybia Embassy, and the folks killed BECAUSE Obama would not provide them protection when they asked for it knowing there was a good chance they would be attacked! Obama wanting to convey the impression his policy of "normalization" in the Muslim world was working! AS bad of corruption, and deception as this country has ever had!..and Congress is dealing with the lies right now as I type!

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Fairly easy to see the posters like Diel and this REal Good Man...why they jump on conservation issues. What a sorry state of affairs, and the bad reputation someone gets when they identify themselves as a "conservationist" People strongly question if you are a socialist, a far leftist, when everyone should want, and private business minded folks for sure want good conservation policy. It produces profits if it isn't just designed to punish business, and kill job creation.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I sure am not familiar with that bird, BUT, I sure saw an enormous amount of Sage Hens just last week. Flocks flying across in front of me like a flock of ducks. And I jumped several other big covies of Sage Hens hunting sharpies that I scored a limit of 2 on. My deal is if these birds take an enormous amount of land, and no roads cutting through the land, then they are doomed. We can not have economic growth which we desperately need right now, or this country is going under, and have a species that needs a small state worth of land unimpared in order to survive. And that happens in nature...win some lose some.

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