Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPCH) range has recently been expanded in Kansas to the north and east of the historic range. The range of LPCH is used to establish conservation areas (e.g., USDA Lesser Prairie Chicken Action Area) where specific practices can be employed by private landowners to benefit LCPH. This recent expansion of the range will help target these practices to improve LPCH habitat in Kansas. This expansion came on the heels of monitoring areas with the aid of Maximum Entropy Modeling focused surveys and individual biologist efforts. Historically, the northern extent of LPCH range was thought to be limited by sand sagebrush distribution, or the Arkansas River in west-central Kansas. In the last couple of decades biologists started detecting LPCH north of the Arkansas River, outside of sand sagebrush habitats. Anecdotally, it has seemed that areas with rangeland juxtaposed to Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands have provided the habitat for the expansion of LPCH populations. We do not know if populations moved north, or if remnant populations of LPCH simply increased. Greater Prairie Chicken populations also seem to be expanding in north-west Kansas in the same habitats (CRP and rangeland). A limited number of LPCH have been detected in counties bordering Nebraska, though this seems to be the northern extent...for now.
Lesser prairie-chicken expansion in Kansas.
David Dahlgren, Jim Pitman, Matthew Bain --- Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, Hays, KS, USA