US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Published in The Prairie Naturalist 32(3): September 2000. Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society


Historically, the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) occurred in sandy rangeland throughout the northeastern and southwestern (Permian Basin) regions of the Texas Panhandle. Analyses of the historical distribution showed a large reduction in the range of the species in Texas between 1963 and 1980 (78% or 1,070,426 ha), particularly in the southwestern and east-central panhandle, whereas populations in the northeastern Panhandle remained relatively stable. In the northeastern Panhandle, average number of males per lek increased since 1942. In the southwestern Panhandle, average numbers of males per lek decreased dramatically from 1969 to 1981 and from 1985 to 2000, but there was no decline in the northeastern or southwestern panhandle regions from 1990 to 2000. Over the last decade numbers of males per lek in the northeastern Panhandle were 6.6% below the 1942 to 1989 average, but in the southwestern Panhandle they were 54.9% below the 1969 to 1989 average. In the northeastern Panhandle, leks per unit area increased from 1952 to 1986 on the Hemphill County study area and from 1952 to 1974 on the Wheeler County study area. On the Wheeler County study area this variable declined precipitously from 1974 to 1985. The 1997 to 2000 lek per unit area average for the Hemphill County study area was 4.1 % above the J 942 to 1986 average, but was 89.5% below the 1997 to 2000 average in the Wheeler County study area. Small expansions, resulting from increased regional conservation efforts, newly established landowner incentive programs, and partnerships between state and federal resource agencies and private landowners, of range occurred in Bailey, Cochran, Gray, Hemphill, Lipscomb, Terry, and Wheeler counties.