Critical Habitat Assessment Tool for Lesser Prairie Chickens

lesser prairie chickenFrom a press release issued by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Kansas Biological Survey:

In cooperation with the five state fish and wildlife agencies that fall within the range of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LEPC), and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), the KARS program has launched version 2.0 of the Southern Great Plains Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (SGP CHAT). The online map viewer hosts the SGP CHAT, which is the spatial representation of the LEPC range-wide conservation plan, and a tool that prioritizes conservation actions while assisting with the siting of industry development.

For the press release, click here.
For the tool itself, go here.

Photo: courtesy of the NRCS USDA

August Research Round-up

NYS bobcat– Ohio Department of Natural Resources is studying how and why bobcats have returned to the state, by tracking 21 collared bobcats, The Madison Press reports. Previous research showed that there are two distinct populations of bobcats in the state. DNA analysis showed that the bobcats in both populations are from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. Read more in The Madison Press, here.

– David “Doc Quack” Riensche, an East Bay Regional Park District biologist, has been studying western pond turtles in in the eastern foothills of Mount Diablo outside Clayton, California for three years, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The study has collected information on where the turtles winter and lay eggs. Western pond turtles are the only turtle native to California, but they face competition from non-native turtle species. Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle, here.

– Nearly 100 research volunteers surveyed the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma for bats for this year’s “Bat Blitz,” organized by the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network, the Catoosa Times reports. One of the goals of the blitz is to document bat diversity before white nose syndrome harms bat populations in Oklahoma. Read more in the Catoosa Times.

Photo: This bobcat was in New York State. Photo courtesy NYS DEC

More Black Bears in Oklahoma

FWC black bear cubAbout 200 people watched as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation released a young black bear. The bear had been found and tranquilized in a university campus neighborhood and was released in a wildlife area, reported Tulsa’s News On Six.

The big turnout is a sign that black bears are not that common in Oklahoma. Black bears were reintroduced to Arkansas in the 1960s, the article says, and their populations there have grown so much that they are now moving into eastern Oklahoma.

The report also mentions a black bear survey being conducted by Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at Oklahoma State University. Twenty bears have been trapped during the three years of the study, the report says.

View or read the News On Six report here.

Photo: Bear cub, courtesy of the Florida Wildlife Commission

3rd Draft for Prairie Chickens

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAFive states submitted a plan for conserving lesser prairie chickens to the US Fish and Wildlife Service last week. It is the third draft for the plan, Lone Star Outdoor News reports. The five states are Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. The multi-state conservation plan is a bid to keep the bird of the federal endangered species list.

The planning process began a year ago, in April 2012. The USFWS will make its final ruling on September 30, 2013.

Read the press release from the Kansas Department of Parks, Tourism and Wildlife here.
Read the same press release from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department here.
Lone Star Outdoor News adds a headline that mentions the third draft, here.

Photo: © Gerard Bertrand, courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Upcoming Research Round-up

The New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is planning two black bear studies.One will study New York’s black bear population as it moves into new areas. GPS-collared bears will be tracked in core habitats and fringe areas. The researcher will compare how bears chose habitats and when they use habitats in the core areas to where to when they are active in newly populated areas. Another study will use DNA to estimate the population of black bears in those newly-occupied regions of the state. The study will use mitochondrial DNA markers from hair samples snagged on barbed-wire snares for a mark-and-recapture survey of sorts. More details are available in the NY Cooperative Unit’s newsletter.

In Oklahoma, biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are planning a big study of bobwhite quail to gather the data needed to try to rebuild bobwhite quail populations in the Rolling Plains in the western part of the state. The study will investigate toxins, weather, parasites, and predators as potential causes of the bobwhite quail population’s decline. The biologists will coordinate their efforts with biologists in west Texas, since the Rolling Plains region crosses state lines. Read more in the Oklahoman. More info on quail in the Rolling Plains is available from the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch (which is in Texas).

Photos: Bobwhite: Dan Sudia, US Fish &Wildlife; Black bear, US Fish & Wildlife