If you have habitat and you place a wind farm in that habitat, you will lose 
your chickens also.

Dency Kahn
Olivette, St. Louis County
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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Philip Wire" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, October 12, 2009 11:55 AM
Subject: Re: Is the Prairie Chicken about to become extinct in MO.

> "Would someone please explain why prairie chickens are going extinct
> in Missouri."
> It doesn't take much to put an area that is capable of holding
> chickens over the edge. I think the best study done in MO showing just
> how fragile prairie chicken populations can be from land use changes
> was done by Don Christisen in the 80's. His primary focus was Charles
> Schwartz's former study area in Sullivan County in north-central MO.
> In the 1940's this area had the largest flocks of prairie chickens in
> Missouri (winter flocks of several hundred birds). By 1955, they were
> gone. Christisen crunched a lot of land use data and found the
> following: slightly more cattle on existing grasslands, a lot more row
> crops, and much less land in permanent grass like hayfields. Chickens
> disappeared. My guess for the Taberville area is that the carrying
> capacity of the surrounding land is virtually nil, and thus only a few
> birds can be supported by Taberville proper. Same for Dunn Ranch.
> Another "problem" is that the breeding strategy of the prairie chicken
> (like a lot of gallinaceous birds) leads to a high number of bad
> nesting years. I read somewhere that two out of five years,
> weatherwise, are usually pretty bad for nesting, two are "OK," and one
> is usually good. (Good means relatively warm and dry when the hens are
> on the nest and once the nestlings emerge--young can be very
> susceptible to starvation and hypothermia). My hunch is that the birds
> depend upon these sparse good years to "restock"-- even if you look at
> healthy populations they fluctuate a lot. All of Missouri's
> populations have gotten small enough now I just don't think the hens
> and brood-rearing habitat exist to "restock" in a good year, and we
> have had several bad/terrible weather years in a row. I was looking at
> some MDC data for nest success in turkeys the past few years and they
> have suffered similarly from the weather, but obviously, we have
> plenty of turkeys and habitat to "restock" in good years to follow.
> Nesting habitat for hens is absolutely critical, and is also the most
> marginalized type of chicken habitat under current models of
> agricultural usage.
> As for what the prairie chicken needs to survive in Missouri, I think
> there is some misunderstanding about the versatility of the bird. In
> just the past 65 years, incredible densities of prairie chickens have
> made a living on the following types of areas, all in Missouri: cattle
> ranches in non-native grasses, timothy seed operations, patchwork
> prairies interspersed with row crops, and government-owned native
> prairies. What do all these habitats have in common? At one point,
> they each hosted the highest densities of birds in the state, and
> sooner or later, saw those populations collapse. Each time, it has
> been about increasing agricultural intensity in the area, a shift away
> from permanent grass in the landscape, or both. The prairie chicken
> learned to be quite adept at living alongside our agricultural models
> circa 1945 or so, it just hasn't (and probably cannot, given its
> needs) adapt to contemporary monocrop, heavily farmed landscapes.
> The emphasis on huge, treeless landscapes may also be a bit misguided.
> Charles Schwartz's pictures of the heart of the north-central MO range
> show a decent number of trees-- not so much as to be called savannah,
> but certainly not treeless prairie. Yes, predator perches are a small
> concern-- but the historical evidence suggests GPCH's could make do
> with scattered trees-- even thrived there, as long as the grass cover
> was right. I think that since current strongholds are in areas like
> the Flint Hills that are literally treeless, we erroneously presume
> they need that anywhere. I think it might be correlation, not
> causation. That being said, vegetation succession away from grasslands
> is a concern, but that's more about encroachment from eastern red
> cedar and other trees that don't "belong" in grasslands.
> So-- in one sense, increasingly agricultural intensity that has
> eliminated healthy, varied, moderately grazed/hayed grass cover is the
> culprit. There simply has to be some habitat with decent carrying
> capacity around core areas. Take it one step further, you have Adam
> Smith's Invisible Hand at work--farmers and ranchers will tell you
> that they can literally not afford to work their land less intensely
> than they currently do with economic demands as they are. In the
> truest sense, the prairie chicken problem is a consumption
> problem--which is too big to solve at the state conservation level.
> As for prairie chicken management being too expensive, as one poster
> has suggested... my recollection is that the Greater Prairie-Chicken
> Recovery Plan of 2007 allots 2.2 million dollars a year of state money
> for work to be done with prairies over ten years. Contrast this to the
> 2.4 BILLION dollar budget annual of MODoT (got that info off their
> website, annual report)... and one asks if maybe a few two-lane roads
> could stay two lanes instead of going to four, and we might be able to
> make this thing work. Money is out there, and how we spend it reflects
> our societal priorities. I know of one relatively useless road project
> in northeast MO slated to go forth that could buy up and manage an
> area three times the size of Dunn Ranch-- but I guess a low-traffic
> four lane road in this instance, or a publicly supported sports
> stadium in another instance, or whatever the money gets spent on is
> more important. Relative to total state government and individual
> spending, what prairie chickens get is a pittance--enough of a
> pittance, to paraphrase Aldo Leopold-- that once they go extinct, we
> can have a good cry, forget about them, and repeat the performance
> with some other bird.
> I really think the prairie chicken represents a great test case for
> Missourians' attitudes about conservation for all of the above
> reasons. We know what we need to do and the resources certainly exist,
> it's simply a case of collective societal willpower and resource
> allocation.
> Phil Wire
> Edwardsville, IL
> [log in to unmask]
> (Yes, though I live in Illinois temporarily, I'm still a Missourian.
> Really wish I could have made the MPF meeting).
> On Sun, Oct 11, 2009 at 4:32 PM, Bob Fisher <[log in to unmask]> 
> wrote:
>> Would someone please explain why prairie chickens are going extinct in 
>> Missouri. I understand why their numbers are going down as the number of 
>> habitat areas diminish. But I don't understand why they are dying out (or 
>> are expected to die out) at places like Dunn Ranch and Taberville 
>> Prairie.
>> I have been watching chickens at Taberville for 37 years. During that 
>> time, the CA has remained the same size or grown. There may be more 
>> management (i.e. controlled burns, haying, etc.) now than there were when 
>> I started going there, but I assume it is more knowledgeable (and 
>> therefore better) management.
>> I do regret that the reclaimed strip mine area south of Montrose was 
>> allowed to go to agriculture instead of being acquired for chickens. I 
>> used to see sizeable flocks (c. 25 birds) there. Now they are gone. So 
>> scratch one area. But why expect them to die out at Taberville?
>> Bob Fisher
>> Independence, MO
>> [log in to unmask]
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
>> ASM Fall Meeting: September 25-27 at Lake of the Ozarks State Park
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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