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AttwatersPrairieChicken_ConservationBargain_Bailey_Hannah_HoustonTX_16December2020_Reel4042.mp3

Hannah Bailey [00:00:00] When you look at the overall numbers, personally, I think the prairie chicken is a conservation bargain.

Hannah Bailey [00:00:09] Maybe, maybe, a million dollars a year, and I'm elevating it, is spent on prairie chicken recovery. In the grand budget of, you know, the U.S., or even the Department of the Interior, that's nothing.

Hannah Bailey [00:00:29] Is it reliant on us right now? To a certain extent? Yes. But we are discovering more and more things every year that make it more successful in the wild. And makes it less reliant on us doing releases.

Hannah Bailey [00:00:48] So what I usually talk to them, talk to these naysayers, for lack of a better word, about is that first, conservation doesn't happen overnight, and, man, it would be great if it did, but it does not.

Hannah Bailey [00:01:03] You know, I compare it to other recovery programs that people maybe have heard about more, like the whooping crane or condor. And these are all still having problems that maybe aren't talked about very much, but we know they're there. I mean, condors have a horrible problem with, with what's called micro trash, feeding their, their chicks small pieces of like bottle caps or small pieces of plastic. There's also issue with them and lead-based ammunition for hunting where they get lead toxicity.

Hannah Bailey [00:01:38] So there's still things that they have to overcome in all of these, these programs. And prairie chickens are no different.

Hannah Bailey [00:01:45] And when it comes to the money, I think the realization needs to be there too, that the money we're spending is not just on the birds. It's on prairie restoration and prairie management and education and public outreach. And all of these are such an important part of conservation, because even if it doesn't save the Attwater's, it has a greater impact on all of the species that utilize these areas. And so it's an important, it's a snowball effect, basically. And that to me, that is just as important as saving the prairie chickens.

Hannah Bailey [00:02:24] And the other thing is that our work with the prairie chicken has already helped other grouse species. The Calgary Zoo has started a sage grouse conservation program. And when they started it, they reached out to a lot of people, including the prairie chicken recovery team, to say, "what do we do?" And so they took a lot of our information and it was great for them because as one of the people I used to talk to up there had said, "you know, we, we started off without having to make a lot of these or having to learn a lot of these things that y'all already did." You know, they started off immediately with nutritional studies, so they weren't guessing about what they should feed the chicks. We helped with enclosure design, to minimize, you know, to minimize injuries and hopefully maximize breeding. And they did it. They saw a good successful start to that program.

Hannah Bailey [00:03:25] So even if this doesn't save the Attwater's, we're hoping that this information can be utilized to help other grouse species. We have a lot of European counterparts that are working with capercaillie, which is a large grouse species in Europe, who have said the same thing about our protocols and that they feel like this has helped them get ahead of the game.

Hannah Bailey [00:03:52] And the other thing that we're learning, and, you know, this is something that, as humans, we should have learned with things like the whooping crane or the California condor, we've got to stop waiting until there's 50 animals to do something. You know, we need to start admitting before then that something needs to be done, while we're still able to.

Hannah Bailey [00:04:15] In the case of the Attwater's, we've done genetics to, genetic investigations, to make sure that we're not, you know, setting them up for inbreeding and things like that. Not every species is going to be that lucky. So we've got to start sooner.

Hannah Bailey [00:04:34] Or even better, we've got to change our ways so that they don't get to those, those, those places.