|The Attwater’s prairie-chicken is considered one of the most endangered birds of North America. Credit: USFWS|
By Beth Ullenberg and Terry Rossignol, Southwest Region
Wildlife biologists are making gains in the recovery of the Attwater’s prairie-chicken, a critically endangered subspecies of the greater prairie-chicken.
Historically, up to 1 million of these birds occupied their native habitat on the coastal prairies of Texas and Louisiana. Invasive species, drought and loss of habitat took a toll on the population. By 1919, the species had disappeared from Louisiana, and by 1937 only about 8,700 birds remained in Texas, signaling the end of hunting for a once-common game bird. It was listed as endangered in 1967 and in 1973 the Endangered Species Act provided immediate protection.
The Attwater’s prairie-chicken is considered one of the most endangered birds of North America. About 100 individuals are left in the wild. Currently, only two populations exist in Texas – one at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge and the other on private lands in Goliad County.