Habitat & Conservation  |  06/15/2022

Podcast Ep. 170: A State-of-the-Union for Lesser Prairie Chickens

Host Bob St.Pierre is joined by Ted Koch, the executive director of the North American Grouse Partnership and a former U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service endangered species biologist, along with Ron Leathers, PF & QF’s chief conservation officer, for a discussion about lesser prairie chickens and their likely listing as an endangered species.  As a former endangered species biologist, Koch brings a depth of knowledge about the mechanics of an endangered species listing, as well as the conservation initiatives already underway to work with landowners around voluntary habitat programs for the birds.  

Episode Highlights:
  • Koch explains what ideal grassland habitat looks like for the lesser prairie chicken using a volleyball that’s 80% covered in grass visualization, while Leathers talks about how using cattle on a grasslands landscape can help keep that volleyball 20% exposed and free from being overgrown by grass that’s too tall or encroached upon by trees.      
  • Koch also addresses the “shoot, shovel, and shut up” mentality often associated with an endangered species listing and how voluntary conservation programs, especially CRP, can be a major opportunity for landowners in the lesser prairie chicken’s footprint.  
  • Leathers also delivers a powerful message about how we often hear that quail are an “edge” species, but the fact they’re considered an edge species is because the edge is all we leave them.  Wide open grassland habitat created for lessers will also be terrific habitat for bobwhite quail.