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May 2, 2005
Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Program Gets $23,000
AUSTIN, Texas — Supporters of the Attwater’s prairie chicken, which has been an endangered species since 1967, have donated $23,000 this year to the Adopt-A-Prairie Chicken program to help save the bird.
Attwater’s prairie chickens inhabit the tall grass coastal prairies and have been slowly edged out by heavy grazing, farming and urban growth, but with the help of grants funded through donations to the Adopt-A-Prairie Chicken program, the birds are being successfully bred and released.
“The highly endangered Attwater’s prairie chicken is currently dependent on captive breeding programs for its continued survival in Texas,” said Mark Klym, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s coordinator of the Adopt-A-Prairie Chicken program.
Grants, which were selected from proposals by the Attwater’s prairie chicken Recovery Team, have been awarded as follows:
- The Fossil Rim Wildlife Center received a $12,000 grant for its Developing Additional Breeding Pens project.
- An $8,000 grant was awarded to the REV Project at Texas A&M University in College Station, where graduate student Ellen Collisson is developing a vaccine for the reticuloendotheliosis virus that has been significantly infecting the chickens.
- A $600 grant was awarded to each of the following five zoos: the Houston Zoo, the San Antonio Zoo, Sea World San Antonio, the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler and the Abilene Zoo.
“The Adopt-A-Prairie Chicken program is a great way for people to get involved directly in the effort to conserve this highly endangered bird,” Klym said. “Reintroduction programs must work hand in hand with habitat restoration programs. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center has certainly been a leader in the reintroduction efforts.”
The number of chickens this year was about 40, with about 20 chickens at both the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge and the Texas City Prairie Preserve.
The birds are radio tagged and their progress tracked after their release. Klym said that captivity-bred birds are surviving in the wild at about the same rate as wild birds.
“We try to release as many as we can,” Klym said. “We ended up only releasing about 18 birds last year because of the REV infections at Fossil Rim. Usually we try to release between 100 and 150 birds each year.”
For more information on the program or to find out how to contribute to this year’s fund, visit the Web.
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