About 50 Attwater’s prairie chickens, considered the most endangered birds in North America, were released into the wild on a family ranch in South Texas this summer.
The ranch, in Goliad County, lies within a pristine native prairie kept intact since the mid-1800s, according to a press release from The Nature Conservancy.
The birds were released on the ranch through a partnership with The Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Coastal Prairie Coalition of the Grazing Lands Initiative, Papalote Land and Cattle Company, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. (Source: Nature Conservancy).
The ranch is part of the 60,000-acre Goliad Prairie, which spans half a dozen family ranches, according to the release.
For more than a decade, the survival of these chickens has depended on intense species restoration of their limited existing habitat and breeding program, the release stated.
Attwater’s chickens will remain in pens to get acclimated to their new surroundings, according to Conservancy literature.
The rapid disappearance of the coastal prairie is the reason for the decline of the chickens and why they were placed on the Endangered Species List. The limited habitat that remains for the prairie chickens and the Texas City Prairie Preserve is becoming threatened by encroaching development, according to research. Maintenance and restoration of the Refugio prairies has been a concerted effort between several groups and a number of conservation agencies since about 1995. The release of Attwater’s prairie chickens on a private ranch is funded in part through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Private Stewardship Grants Program to the Coastal Plains of the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, a group of private landowners committed to conservation and working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Grazing Lands Conservation has a Safe Harbor Agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service in which participating landowners voluntarily undertake management activities, and restore or enhance habitat for endangered species. The Service is supplying the juvenile birds for release from captivity program and provides expertise and support for the project as the federal agency charged with protection and recovery of endangered species, literature reveals.
In unrelated news, an oasis amid the air lands of West Texas, pristine Independence Creek is a major contributor to the Peco River and the Conservancy’s nearly 20,000-acre Preserve, sustaining diverse and abundant native wildlife, will be open to visitors on Sept. 22nd.
For information, call 432-345-6773.
In other conservancy news, care2.com is urging all citizens to sign an online petition at thepetitionsite.com to help save lions, leopards, jaguars, and wolves that are being poached and face numerous threats.