Lesser Prairie Chicken Numbers in Decline

US - Lesser prairie chickens have been reduced to just a fraction of their once booming population across a handful of states, prompting a group of conservationists to crank up the pressure on the federal government to provide more protection for the rare bird.
calendar icon 12 June 2008
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Monday 9 June marked the 10th anniversary of the lesser prairie chicken's designation as a candidate for possible protection under the Endangered Species Act. WildEarth Guardians used the anniversary to release a report showing the bird's decline over the years in north-eastern and south-eastern New Mexico and parts of Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, reports Current Argus.

"It has been 10 years to the day that the Fish and Wildlife Service admitted it needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act. But here we are 10 years later, without any formal legal protections under this law for this rare and declining bird," said Nicole Rosmarino, director of WildEarth Guardians' wildlife programme.

Lesser prairie chickens are stocky, ground-dwelling birds. Males are famous for courtship displays in which they inflate pouches of skin on the side of their necks. The displays have become the centerpiece of an annual festival near the eastern New Mexico town of Milnesand.

As the population continues to decline, conservationists worry that the chance for bird-watchers to see the famous courtship could become a thing of the past.

Source: CurrentArgus.com
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