Effect of Predator Control on Reproductive Success and Hen Survival of Attwater's Prairie-chicken

From 1980-1981, we tested the hypothesis that removal of potential nest predators would increase the reproductive success of the endangered Attwater's prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri). Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis, N = 74), opossums (Didelphis virginiana, N = 83), and raccoons (Procyon lotor, N = 9) were removed from a 522-ha predator removal area (PR) during February- June 1980 and 1981. Predator indices were lower (P < 0.002) and prairie-chicken nest success was higher (82% vs. 33%, P < 0.019) in the PR than a 620-ha control area (CO). Breeding season hen survival was <9% on both areas and survival curves were different between PR and CO (P < 0.015). Small sample size caused by declining populations and treatment effects that were compounded with site effects make our results equivocal. Managers may need to consider predator management of a diverse group of species that prey on prairie-chicken adults and nests for a control program to be effective.

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