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Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR Update- July 2009
Southwest Region, July 31, 2009
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Attwater's prairie chicken (APC) recovery efforts hit a new high in July when six APC hens raised 21 chicks to six weeks of age in the wild - a new record in recent years! Previously, 14 chicks were confirmed to have reached six weeks of age in 2007.  However, this year's excitement was doubled when two of the six APC hens raised a total of six chicks on their own!  Since 2004, refuge staff and Student Conservation Association interns have intensely managed APC broods each spring by catching live insects and feeding the hens and chicks every couple of hours for a two week period.  With 25 nests located on APC NWR this year, personnel were unable to tend to each brood.  Five of the successful hens (20 chicks) were on APC NWR and one hen (one chick) on private lands in Goliad County.  Unfortunately, no chicks were produced at the Texas City Prairie Preserve (TCPP) (owned by the Nature Conservancy) this year. 

At a meeting of all APC breeding facilities in early July, 252 Attwater's were slated for release this summer. Although the number of birds actually released will probably be somewhat less, this group will still represent the second largest release of birds since the APC release program started in 1996! Although 317 chicks were produced in captivity this year, some birds are held back to "replenish" the captive flock.

By the end of July, about 110 birds had already been transported to acclimation pens at the three release sites and/or released into the wild. Plans are to continue to release birds at the APC NWR, TCPP, and, private lands in Goliad County.

Conditions on APC NWR continue to show signs of severe drought.  The refuge has received less than 1.25 inches of rainfall since the end of April and endured 100 plus degree heat for almost six weeks.  As a result, an 82-acre wildfire that was started by a lightning strike occurred on the refuge on July 23.  Quick response from four local volunteer fire departments, Texas Forest Service, and Balcones Canyonlands NWR fire crew and a bizarre north wind kept the flames from affecting much coastal prairie habitat and APCs in acclimation pens.  The fire mostly burned a large woodlot on the Renz unit. 

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



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