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KDWPT Receives National Award for Lesser Prairie-Chicken Project

EMPORIA – On October 2, 2019, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) was presented the Wildlife Restoration Award (Wildlife Research category) from The Wildlife Society (TWS) at their annual conference in Reno, Nev. The Wildlife Restoration Award recognizes outstanding projects supported by federal Wildlife Restoration funds — also known as Pittman-Robertson funds — and associated non-federal matching funds. KDWPT Wildlife Division staff received the award for their research project, “Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat Use, Survival, and Recruitment.” Kent Fricke, KDWPT small game coordinator, accepted the award on behalf of the department.

“The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Project has been one of the most productive research projects ever funded by our department,” said Fricke, “and it exemplifies the success that can be attained when state wildlife agencies, researchers, and landowners work together. The findings of this research will continue to influence lesser prairie-chicken management for decades to come.”

The project has generated new information and helped establish common methodologies that will help researchers better understand the factors affecting habitat use and life history traits of lesser prairie-chickens. Research efforts were led by Dr. Dave Haukos, Unit Leader of the Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Kansas State University.

According to Fricke, none of this would have been possible without the cooperation of landowners.

“Because the vast majority of lesser prairie-chickens occur on private property in Kansas, it was imperative that relationships were developed between researchers and landowners to make this project successful,” said Fricke. “Landowner access was key.”

TWS is an international organization committed to addressing national and international issues that affect the current and future status of wildlife in North America and throughout the world. TWS annually recognizes professional excellence, outstanding achievement, and highlights contributions to wildlife science and management through their awards program. For more on The Wildlife Society, visit wildlife.org.

For more on prairie chickens in Kansas, visit ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Upland-Birds/Greater-Prairie-Chicken.