This film is nearing completion after 4 years of efforts. Intended for distribution on PBS, the only hurdle lying between is the funding to complete Post Production. We have a relationship with Smoky Hills PBS as well as American Public Television. This video was produced for our Kickstarter Campaign launching later- August 18th, 2011. If you would like to see us complete this important conservation film, please go to: kickstarter.com/projects/373637127/battle-on-the-booming-grounds
to boost our efforts.
When I was a young biologist, Don Christisen personally told me that nearly 12,000 Greater Prairie Chickens remained in my home state of Missouri. That was in 1979. Hunting had been halted on these birds in 1907.
Today, only a relative handful remain. In a good breeding season, possibly 400 individuals but in 2009 only 79 males could be found. Prairie remaining in fragmented patches, habitat flung across South-west Missouri amidst a network of expanding corporate farms.
Organizations like Nature Conservancy and the smaller Missouri Prairie Foundation are doing great work. But it is not enough.
Once numbering at least 6.9 Million individuals in Missouri, 8.9 Million birds in Illinois and nearly 11.2 Million in Iowa, combined all 3 of these states number less than 800 and probably worse than that.
We need the power of numbers- the power of caring people to turn this mess around.
In Missouri, where hope remains, so far- the responsible government agency has seemed to show they will not save this bird. In the 1940's they killed at least 1,500 birds in Putnam and Sullivan counties- bowing to pressure at each hopeful moment. They do not seem to take the bold steps needed, and will not use Eminent Domain- a practice commonly used by Highway Departments.
So are we to understand that Highways are more important than native species? Each interchange of a 4 lane highway costs $28 Million -Hmm...
Why do we- as humans- tend to wait until it is nearly too late?
How and why do we linger in various stages of denial?
There are still somewhere between 300,000 and perhaps double that in the fall when lots of young chicks are still surviving. To my way of thinking the best overall population estimate was done in 1999 - 390,000. Today every state is in decline except perhaps one, Nebraska.
But it is Kansas where the Last Stand is really occurring.
Everything hinges on the Flint Hills. There- ranchers are being pushed to overgraze the land to make their payments.
We included portions of Gerald Horak's recent interview with us. His wonderful folksy insights sounded like they came from the Sage of the Prairie. Thanks Jerry!