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Outdoor Notebook: Lesser prairie chicken populations increase

Lesser prairie chicken populations continue to increase, according to the results of recent wildlife survey released by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

The latest annual breeding population survey shows an increase of about 30 percent over the previous year: 38,637 birds compared to 29,934.

“The most encouraging result from the survey is the steadily increasing population trend over the last six years, which likely reflects improving habitat conditions,” said Roger Wolfe, the lesser prairie chicken program manager with WAFWA, which administers the plan.

There has been a trend of population gains averaging 3,000 birds each year since 2013, when major drought conditions began to subside across the lesser prairie chicken native range that includes northwestern Oklahoma.

The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of the state wildlife agencies of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado along with private and public partners involved in lesser prairie-chicken conservation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is scheduled to decide this year on whether to list the lesser prairie chicken as endangered.

The lesser prairie chicken was listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, a listing that was vacated in 2016 as a result of a lawsuit and subsequent federal court ruling.

Several environmental groups petitioned the USFWS shortly after that ruling, triggering another species status review that could result in the lesser prairie chicken again being listed.

Beast Feast scheduled at Crossings

Crossings Church, at 14600 N. Portland Ave., will hold its 10th annual “Beast Feast Sportsman's Dinner” on Friday.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Mike Fackler, a former pastor at Crossings who started the “Beast Feast” and now lives in Wyoming will be the guest speaker.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children and are available at the door or at Crossings.church/event/beast-feast.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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