Free webinar will teach about Missouri’s endangered prairie-chicken

Greater Prairie-Chicken

Greater Prairie-Chicken

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will host an educational webinar about greater prairie-chickens in Missouri. The birds are still endangered in the state but officials say they “dance and boom” on Harrison County hilltops thanks to conservation partnership.

The free webinar will take people virtually to the prairie from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on Friday, April 9, with live video from the Nature Conservancy (TNC) focused on a lek at Dunn Ranch Prairie. Featured speakers for the webinar will be Steve Buback, MDC natural history biologist, and Kent Wamsley, TNC grasslands and sustainable agriculture strategy manager in Missouri. They will discuss the history of prairie-chickens on Missouri’s native grasslands and the challenges the relatively small flocks of endangered birds face today.

“Prairie-chickens are natural and iconic representatives of the tallgrass prairie,” Buback said. “Their leks are an ancient, hardwired part of these birds, demonstrated by the fact that even birds trapped elsewhere and reintroduced to a grassland will use the same ancestral lek sites. Having never seen a landscape prior to release, they choose the same sites for courtship as prior prairie-chickens did for thousands of years.”

In-person viewing of the lek will not be offered this year due to COVID-19 precautions and to reduce disturbance on the lek. But the lek camera will remain available to the public for virtual viewing online through May. The camera will switch to bison calves when prairie-chickens are done booming.

To register for the webinar visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZDQ.