Conduct a google scholar seach on greater-prairie chicken management;
you'll find a host of published literature, often with links to a pdf.

For further reading: Status & management of greater-prairie chicken in
North America

Text below is excerpted from:
Habitat and predator relationships.—Prairie-chickens evolved with a
variety of predators and developed various predator defense and
avoidance strategies. The species expanded north of its original
range, however, and is now exposed to Northern Goshawks (Accipiter
gentilis) during the breeding season, with which they would have had
limited evolutionary experience (F. Hamerstrom, Wisconsin Department
of Natural Resources, Plainfield, Wisconsin, pers. comm.). Where
Northern Goshawks and prairie-chickens co-occur in the prairie-chicken
range (mostly Minnesota and Wisconsin), goshawks can be very effective
predators of prairie-chickens, especially those that display in late
winter or early spring. Thus, spring may be a period of high mortality
for male prairie-chickens due to their greater exposure (and perhaps
reduced alertness) on booming grounds and the possible presence of
increased numbers of migratory raptors. Toepfer (1988) reported the
following number of published accounts of predation per raptor species
of prairie-chickens on booming grounds: ten Northern Goshawks, two
Cooper’s Hawks (Accipiter cooperii), one Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo
jamicensis), one Great Horned Owl, and one Snowy Owl (Nyctea
scandiaca). Svedarsky (unpublished data) observed a goshawk kill a
prairie-chicken on a booming ground in northwestern Minnesota, and
Burger (1988) had evidence of three Red-tailed Hawks killing
prairie-chickens on booming grounds in Missouri.

Humans have modified the landscape so that prairie-chickens may have
become more vulnerable to certain predators and numbers of certain
predators may have increased. For example, trees along roads and
drainage ditches, tree plantings in grasslands, and electrical power
poles provide perching sites from which raptors can hunt. In the
eastern portion of the prairie-chicken range, there is more woody
vegetation along the prairie/forest transition zone. This woody
vegetation is increasing due to wet cycles and the human control of
prairie fires, which were a significant limiting factor of woody plant
encroachment into the prairie before settlement (Bragg 1995). In
Missouri (a forest/prairie transition state), Burger (1988) found that
38 of 63 radio-tagged prairie-chicken mortalities were due to raptors,
particularly Great Horned Owls and Red-tailed Hawks. He found that
females were most susceptible to predation during the nesting period,
which results in the loss of both the hen and her potential
production. Newell (1987) noted that most mortality of radio-marked
hens at the SNG occurred in May.

Red foxes and skunks have been the most common mammalian predators of
prairie- chicken nests throughout most of the eastern range. Foxes
generally have more impact than skunks because they commonly prey on
the nesting hen. Over a 10-yr period, Svedarsky (1988) found December
fox fur prices to be positively correlated with spring booming-ground
counts two springs later. The conclusion was that trapping effort
increased with the market incentive and that other potential predators
were trapped as well (skunks, feral cats [Felis domesticus]). If
trapping (and hunting) did, in fact, reduce mammalian predator
numbers, it should have resulted in higher prairie-chicken production
the next year and higher booming-ground counts the following year.
This appeared to be the case. Further evidence for the high impact of
foxes on large ground-nesting birds is that in areas where coyotes
tend to displace foxes, nest success often increases. In North Dakota
and South Dakota, Sovada et al. (1995) studied comparable areas except
that some areas were dominated by red foxes and others by coyotes.
Duck nests in coyote-dominated areas experienced nearly twice (32%)
the nesting success as those in fox-dominated areas (17%). The authors
suggested that managing an area for coyotes rather than for foxes
could be an effective method of increasing duck nest success.
Svedarsky (1992) observed an increase in apparent nest success of
larger ground-nesting birds (ducks and grouse) over a 2-yr period in
Minnesota. As coyotes apparently displaced foxes, nest success
increased from 8.3% of 12 nests to 61.3% of 31 nests. Predator
communities and densities may vary widely geographically and
temporally over the range of prairie-chickens. In Kansas, Robel
(unpublished data) noted that coyote densities were 0.39 per km2 in
the 1950-60’s and 5.47 per km2 in 2001-2002. Coyotes seem to be
increasing in eastern areas as well. In Minnesota, scent-post
visitation indices suggested a doubling of coyotes in the agriculture
and transition zones (which would include the prairie-chicken range)
in the 1990’s compared to the 1980’s; red foxes increased through the
1980’s and presently are declining (Dexter 1999).

Specific predator control often is not practical because of the cost
and intensity required and because of public resistance, but there are
habitat management alternatives. These include: 1) improving
characteristics of nesting and brood cover, 2) reducing predator
access trails in nesting and brood cover, 3) reducing potential
mammalian predator den sites (e.g., rock piles, bulldozed piles of
brush, and abandoned buildings), and 4) reducing potential raptor
nesting sites and hunting perches. In Wisconsin, Peterson (1979) noted
that neither Great Horned Owls or Red-tailed Hawks can hunt
effectively without adequate perches. Because most of the raptors
previously noted are “perch hunters,” tree removal to reduce raptor
hunting perches in prairie-chicken habitat has become a recommended
practice in Illinois (Westemeier, unpublished data), Minnesota
(Svedarsky 1979; D. Trauba, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,
Watson, Minnesota, pers. comm.), Missouri (Burger 1988), and Wisconsin
(Toepfer, unpublished data). Based on recent observations of bird
survival and booming-ground use in apparent response to tree removal
in Wisconsin, Toepfer (unpublished data) considered the reduction of
open space via tree planting on grasslands to be one of the greatest
impacts to prairie grouse habitat. Tree removal also reduces nesting
sites for Great Horned Owls and Red-tailed Hawks, species that are
uncommon in open prairie (R. K. Murphy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, Kenmare, North Dakota, pers. comm.). Nesting sites for
American Crows and Black-billed Magpies (nest predators in some areas)
would be reduced by tree removal. Also, there is evidence that by
increasing the block size of cover areas, nesting success may be
improved. Ball et al. (1995) studied duck nesting in a heavily grazed
area of Montana and recorded at least 48 broods per 100 breeding
pairs, with variation in productivity attributed to grassland block
size and red fox versus coyote domination. For Missouri, Burger
(1988:100) recommended that “Management of greater acreages of nesting
cover in larger tracts may reduce prairie-chicken nesting density and
predator efficiency, thereby increasing nest success and female

The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
To unsubscribe or change subscription options: