*** UPDATE *** AP…
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
The 16 flights cost a total of about $7,400. This is the first year of a three-year program that’s largely funded by federal dollars.
* Scott Reeder…
Our cash-strapped state government has found a new use for its fleet of aircraft – flying birds into Illinois.
I kid you not.
State aircraft are flying to Kansas and transporting prairie chickens back to the Land of Lincoln.
And at a time state lawmakers are looking at raising the state income tax, Illinois state employees have been hiking across Kansas trapping these chickens.
Talk about fowl fiscal deeds.
State pilots have flown between Illinois and Kansas not once, not twice but 14 times this year taking prairie chickens to downstate Jasper and Marion counties.
“Illinois is the Prairie State and prairie chickens are an endangered species here, so we thought it would be a good idea to bring them back,” said Scott Simpson, site manager for Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Newton, Ill.
The feds are chipping in $337,000 toward the program and the state will pay $117,000. Some of the cost to state government may be offset by private fundraising done by the Audubon Society, Simpson said.
* The AP has the state’s response…
Illinois Department of Natural Resource spokesman Chris Young says the greater prairie chicken is a threatened species. He says the state started a program this spring to bring the chickens to the Prairie Ridge State Natural Area near Effingham to increase their dwindling population. Young says the Kansas chickens are needed to improve genetic diversity. The state has brought about 90 chickens to Illinois on multiple flights.
Young says hunting and fishing license fees along with private donations pay the rest.
* And we’re getting the birds from more states than just Kansas. From Minnesota Public Radio…
In the past few years, several hundred Minnesota chickens have been captured and relocated to help rebuild populations in North Dakota, Illinois and Wisconsin. There’s even talk of moving Minnesota birds to Texas to help save a cousin, the Atwater Prairie Chicken.
Missouri is also getting threatened birds from Kansas, but they’re driving the birds, not flying them.