Environmental contaminant hazards to Attwater's greater prairie-chickens

Journal of Wildlife Management
By:  and 



The Attwater's greater prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) was declared an endangered species in 1966 and exists only on the upper Gulf Coast prairie of southeast Texas. Since 1975, total numbers have declined from 2,240 to 1,456 in 1981 (Jurries 19679; W. Shifflett, Manager Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge [APCNWR], personal communication).

The total population of this prairie grouse is presently scattered in a norther, largely agricultural, but also urban-rangeland area of 6 counties that contained about 600 individuals in 1971, and a southern, largely rangeland, but also agricultural-urban area of 4 counties that contained about 860 individuals in 1981. During the present study, Attwater's prairie-chickens completely disappeared in Wharton and Waller counties in the northern area (W. Shifflett, personal communication).

Prairie-chickens in the northern area frequent crops of rice, soybeans, peanuts, or corn; those in the southern area frequent sorghum or cotton that are planted on or near ancestral booming grounds. The use of pesticides in the agricultural areas may have contributed to the initial decline of prairie-chicken numbers. In 1927, several hundred prairie-chickens were found dead in and near a cotton field in Wharton County shortly after it had been treated with arsenic (Lehmann and Mauermann 1963). The remains of 5 prairie-chickens were found in sorghum and soybean fields in Refugio and Colorado counties between 1975 and 1977 (R. Haeber and W. Kessler, personal communication) but were too decomposed to be analyzed for evidence of pesticide exposure. Parathion formulations had been applied to the soybeans and near the sorghum. Other pesticide use on the areas was uncertain. The objective of this study was to ascertain pesticide hazards to Attwater's greater prairie-chickens.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Environmental contaminant hazards to Attwater's greater prairie-chickens
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
Volume 47
Issue 4
Year Published 1983
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 6 p.
First page 1132
Last page 1137
Country United States
State Texas
County Colorado County, Refugio County