endangered species

StateImpact Oklahoma
9:52 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Lesser Prairie Chicken Peep Show: In the Field With Oklahoma’s ‘Threatened’ Bird

A group of bird watchers at the Selman Ranch, which hosts the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in northwest Oklahoma.
Credit Joe Wertz / State Impact Oklahoma

Betsy Searight and her husband John drove from all the way from New Jersey for this opportunity: Wake up at 4 a.m., huddle against the cold, and sit silently and motionless for hours hoping to watch a Lesser Prairie Chicken peep show.

After a long fight between Oklahoma and the U.S. government, the Lesser Prairie Chicken goes on the federal threatened species list later this month.

To find out how the listing will affect Oklahoma and why the bird is worth protecting, we took a trip to the High Plains of northwestern Oklahoma.

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Environment
5:27 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Federal Plan To Save Prairie Chickens Ruffles State Feathers

A male lesser prairie chicken in the Texas Panhandle. The bird's entire habitat includes parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Jon McRoberts AP

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 5:29 pm

It's prairie chicken mating season!

Still, it's tough being a lesser prairie chicken these days. This type of grouse once spanned an enormous area, though now they survive mainly in pockets of Oklahoma and Kansas. Their numbers are plummeting; in 2012, the population dropped by half.

But after they were recently listed as a threatened species by the U.S. government, complaints of federal overreach and lawsuits have followed.

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