The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has approved a final Oklahoma Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation Plan with a goal to keep the iconic prairie bird off of the Endangered Species list and ultimately increase its presence in Oklahoma.
The plan was presented for approval to the Commission at its November meeting by Russ Horton, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The lesser prairie chicken population trend in Oklahoma began to drastically decline in the late 1980s and has remained low, believed to be in part due to land use changes and habitat fragmentation that are not suitable for the birds. The current population estimate of lesser prairie chickens in Oklahoma is about 37,000 birds.
A proposed listing of the lesser prairie chicken as either "endangered," "threatened" or "not warranted" is expected from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by late November, after which a final ruling would be offered by September 2013.
According to Horton, the plan that was approved by the Commission will help achieve the recovery of lesser prairie chickens needed to either avoid an endangered listing or, in the event that the bird is listed, move more quickly toward de-listing.
As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.