|Greater prairie chicken male|
In an effort to keep this native bird and its booming call from disappearing forever, a partnership of 20 state agencies called the Missouri Grasslands Coalition is working on a long-term project to restore the habitat of the prairie chicken and bring its numbers back into the thousands. This project has been going on for many years already as it requires overcoming several major obstacles to be successful.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle is the habitat itself. Tallgrass prairie is a unique ecosystem that cannot be used for farming or grazing; this presents a problem in a state like Missouri where 93% of all land is now privately owned. To overcome this, the MGC is working with landowners to provide prairie chicken habitat in exchange for subsidies.
Another issue is maintaining a breeding population. Because of the scarcity of tallgrass prairie, greater prairie chicken flocks only exist on “islands” throughout the Great Plains and the birds rarely migrate more than 10 miles away from where they were born. To establish populations, Missouri Department of Conservation officials are importing birds from Kansas, where they are more numerous, and placing the birds in tallgrass prairie conservation areas.
If you’d like more information about saving the greater prairie chicken, please contact the Missouri Department of Conservation here.