SE Colorado Birding

Birding and discussion: A conservation-oriented birding blog that emphasizes low-impact birding and sustainable birding practices together with the enjoyment of birds. Southeast Colorado offers a diversity of habitats which provide premiere birding opportunities. Save Sabal Palm

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lesser Prairie-Chicken public viewing site closed this year

I just got word that due to a serious decline in the population of Lesser Prairie-Chickens on the Comanche National Grassland. I strongly support appropriate restrictions to protect this very small population of a species listed as Threatened by the State of Colorado. SeEtta Here is the official notice:


Springfield, Colo., January 9, 2008 – The U.S. Forest Service, Comanche National Grassland will be closing the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Viewing Area during March through May, 2008. This is a temporary closure because the bird’s population has declined significantly in Baca County. The 2007 Baca County lek count showed 22 individual birds, down from 48 the year before.
The U.S. Forest Service will not allow the public, including bird tour groups, to utilize the site during March through May, 2008. The area of closure is along FS Road 545, between County Road C through G, approximately 12 miles east of Campo, Colorado.
The viewing area is typically open for the public to watch the mating dances of the male prairie chicken on the lek (displaying, courtship area) each spring. Because the number of Lesser prairie-chickens was down significantly during the 2007 mating season, U.S. Forest Service biologists made the recommendation to temporarily close the site. The hotter, drier spring and winter storms of 2006-2007 likely caused the estimated 46% drop in prairie-chicken numbers in Baca County.
According to Comanche Ranger Jeff Stoney, “While we have no evidence that the viewing area is contributing to the bird’s decline, this move will decrease the amount of disturbance on a population that is already at a critically low level.” The effort to increase bird numbers is supported by the Division of Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Cimarron National Grassland near Elkhart, Kansas plans to have two Lesser Prairie-Chicken Viewing Areas open to the public where more birds survived the winter storm. For more information on the Kansas sites visit:


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