Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Attwater Prairie Chicken Numbers
Southwest Region, April 30, 2007
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The official estimated wild Attwater's prairie chicken (APC) numbers for 2007 is 44 birds (38 at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and 6 at the Texas City Prairie Preserve (TCPP)).   Although numbers are up from last year for the refuge, the TCPP population suffered a dramatic decline.  Reasons for this decline are being investigated.

By the end of April, 9 APC nests at APC NWR and 2 at TCPP have been located and each secured with a predator deterrent fence.  An additional 8 hens at APC NWR and 3 at TCPP still have not started nesting.  This record number 22 potential nesting hens prompted refuge personnel to ask for help with the upcoming nesting season to manage APC broods on the refuge and preserve.  Response from Ecological Services, Refuges, Law Enforcement, and Regional Office personnel has been tremendous.  The first eggs to hatch at the refuge are due in early May while the first eggs to hatch at TCPP are due in mid-May.  Unfortunately, more than 12 inches of rain have fallen at the refuge since ealy March, making it difficult for these ground-nesting birds to nest.      

Production at all APC captive breeding facilities is in full swing with the first chicks hatching out during the last week in April.  Noteworthy is Fossil Rim Wildlife Center's (FRWC) effort  including 277 eggs produced with 93% fertility and 16 chicks hatched by month's end.

Despite an unusally cold Saturday, the 13th annual Attwater's Prairie Chicken Festival experienced higher attendance this year than last year's festival.  International visitors included folks from Sweden, the Phillipines, Canada, and Scotland.  There were also visitors from Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, and Illinios.

Refuge personnel assisted the Sealy Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) on April 12 with a 30-acre wildfire located just south of the refuge's Bollinger Tract in Austin County.   Extremely saturated soil conditions hampered Sealy VFD personnel from being able to get to the wildfire, hence the need to call for refuge support.  Cause of the fire is still under investigation.  

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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