Hours: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Admission: $12 Adults, $7 Child.
Conservation in Action: Prairie Chicken Translocation
Because of the Blank Park Zoo’s partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Zoo staff recently had the opportunity to spend a few days assisting with the trapping and translocation of greater prairie chickens from western Nebraska to southern Iowa and northern Missouri – conservation in action!
This is part of a multiple-year program to support the disappearing wild prairie chicken population still remaining in Iowa, with the goal that this unique “symbol of the prairie” could become self-sustaining. The species was once found across the state, but was extirpated at the turn of the century due to land-use and habitat change, along with over-hunting. In the 1980s, the IDNR translocated hundreds of birds to Iowa, but by 2010 it was estimated that less than 30 remained.
The prairie chicken translocation project is a local project and is part of the Zoo’s Coins for Conservation. Did you know that a portion of your daily admission or your membership goes to support Blank Park Zoo’s Coins for Conservation projects?
Since 2010 when the prairie chicken translocation project began, Blank Park Zoo has partnered with the Nebraska Fish and Game to relocate prairie chickens from Nebraska to southern Iowa. The Zoo has bought GPS tracking devices to track the chickens to monitor their movements and conduct research on prairie chicken populations. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has permission from Nebraska Fish and Game to trans-locate 50 males and 50 female chickens to Iowa.
This year’s trapping project ran from April 1-11, with two groups of staff traveling to Nebraska. The prairie chickens were caught and driven back to Iowa the same day of their capture.
“The focus on re-establishing a population of Greater Prairie Chickens in Iowa is also beneficial to other grassland dependent species…and it is a local conservation project we can physically participate in,” says Kevin Drees, Director of Animal Care and Conservation at Blank Park Zoo.
This “in the wild” conservation project is one way that the Blank Park Zoo can be intimately involved in assisting wildlife, part of the mission of a modern zoo.