New Study Affirms Lesser Prairie-Chicken Research Practices

The results provided in this study, combined with data provided by Hagen et al. (2006), suggest researchers can trap and handle this threatened species without measurable negative effects to individuals if birds are immediately removed from traps, the number of consecutive trapping days on an individual lek are minimized (7–10 d), the position and location of the traps on the lek of capture is rotated every 2–4 d, and researchers use active trapping techniques to target individuals.

from “Evaluation of Capture Techniques on Lesser Prairie-Chicken Trap Injury and Survival,” by B. Grisham et al.

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Dr. Blake Grisham holds a radio-tagged lesser prairie-chicken (photo courtesy Blake Grisham).

Led by Dr. Blake Grisham of Texas Tech, a research team has published  a study in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management that demonstrates that the research activities of capture and radio-tagging do not negatively influence the survival of lesser prairie-chickens.  Done properly, these research techniques offer an important, proactive tool to improve lesser prairie-chicken habitat conservation and management.

Researcher approaches prairie-chickens captured in funnel trap.

Researcher approaches lesser prairie-chickens captured in funnel trap (photo courtesy David Haukos).

In their study, Evaluation of Capture Techniques on Lesser Prairie-Chicken Trap Injury and Survival,” researchers looked at the effects of trapping more than 400 lesser prairie-chickens from 2006 to 2012 via funnel traps, rocket nets, and drop nets. Based on the team’s findings, the paper offers  recommendations to researchers to minimize potential injuries during field work.

Read the full study (Click the link “PDF” that appears near the top of the page, above the article citation.)