News has been pretty grim the past few decades for what once was the most populous and iconic gamebird species on the southern plains. But recent aerial surveys in Kansas show that lesser prairie chickens in southwest Kansas seem to be expanding their range, at least a tiny bit.

From this story on
A new aerial survey of Kansas has revealed new breeding grounds for the lesser prairie chicken as the bird’s habitat appears to be moving north. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said the survey was part of a five-state project to determine the numbers of birds in the region and their breeding grounds. The survey was conducted ahead of the release of a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Wildlife and Parks on the status of the birds.

According to the story, lesser prairie chickens populations in Kansas have experienced a slight increase in the past 15 years, even as they continue to decline in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. Kansas even still offers a hunting season for the few who still pursue the lesser, which once numbered in the millions before dwindling to its current status. Anyone out there still hunting lessers?