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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Lewis and Clark in North Dakota:
Wildlife Then & Now


Prairie Fowls (Prairie Chickens) Past Prairie Fowl Distribution Map of North Dakota Present Prairie Fowl Distribution Map of North Dakota
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Prairie Fowls (Prairie Chickens)

Prairie chickens remained rare in the state until the early 1880s when they began to move north and west as the prairie was broken for grain farming. By 1900 this bird was found throughout the state, excluding the badlands. Prairie chicken fortunes began to reverse in the 1930s. In 1940 prairie chicken numbers were estimated to be 430,000, but by 1964 it was estimated that less than 5,000 birds remained in the state. Today prairie chickens number less than 1,000 birds. Resident populations are found on the Sheyenne National Grasslands and Prairie Chicken WMA (Grand Forks County).

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