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Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR - April 2009
Southwest Region, April 30, 2009
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The official estimated wild Attwater's prairie chicken (APC) numbers for 2009 is 90 birds (50 at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), four at the Texas City Prairie Preserve (TCPP), and 36 on private property in Goliad County, Texas). This increase reflects a 20% increase compared to last year's numbers and the highest annual population estimate since 1994 when 158 birds were estimated.

By the end of April, 17 APC nests at APC NWR were located and each secured with a predator deterrent fence.  The potential for an additional eight to 10 hens nesting this year could happen by mid-May. Plans are to continue to intensely manage most of the broods this spring to determine why newly hatched chicks struggle with surviving past the first week of life.

Production at all APC captive breeding facilities is in full swing with the first chicks hatching out during mid-April. More than 450 eggs have been produced by the end of April.  Noteworthy is Fossil Rim Wildlife Center's (FRWC) efforts in producing more than 260 eggs so far.

The 15th annual Attwater's Prairie Chicken Festival (held April 4-5) experienced a 30% drop in attendance this year compared to last year's festival. This drop can be attributed to the nation's current economic situation.  International visitors included folks from Canada, Denmark, and Great Britain. There were also visitors from Wisconsin, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Minnesota.

About 760 acres of the refuge were treated for red imported fire ants (RIFA) in April using Extinguish Plus.  RIFAs have most likely decimated the local insect population over the years to the point that APC chicks do not have enough food when they hatch in the spring, thus one reason they do not survive longer than the first seven to 10 days of life without intense management (see above).  The treated area will be closely monitored to determine if this action helps APC chicks experience better survival. 

 

 

Contact Info: Terry Rossignol, (979)234-3021, ext. 13, terry_rossignol@fws.gov



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