Nebraska natives are trying to gain a foothold in Missouri, by design.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has introduced 100 greater prairie chickens trapped in western Nebraska to the grassland of northwest Missouri.
The native Nebraska birds play a big role in Missouri’s attempt to restore a species that has dwindled into state-endangered designation.
Biologists will be able to track the new arrivals through small radio transmitters; determining their movements through nesting and brood rearing seasons.
The prairie chickens were trapped in western Nebraska and taken to northwestern Missouri the same day. The chickens have been released in Harrison County at The Nature Conservancy’s Dunn Ranch, part of a two-state, public-private prairie conservation program in the Grand River Grasslands.
“This went really well this spring,” said Kendall Coleman, MDC private lands conservationist, in a written statement. “We set out to get 100 birds, and now we’ve released our last one. We’re really pleased with how it’s gone.”
The prairie chicken translocation program is a partnership between MDC, The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. MDC’s Pawnee Prairie Natural Area and the Conservancy’s Dunn Ranch in Harrison County are anchor points for the program.
The birds were trapped on private property in Nebraska. Some have been released in the Kellerton Grasslands Bird Conservation Area across the state line in Iowa.
Prairie chickens are endangered in Missouri and Iowa due to habitat loss, primarily as the prairie was turned into crop land.
Mike Lear, The Missourinet, contributed to this story.