Aerial Surveys to Document Lesser and Greater Prairie Chicken Population Trends

Aerial surveys conducted by helicopters will begin March 16 and continue through early May in areas of Kansas containing prairie chicken habitat. The surveys are conducted annually by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to document population trends and determine how populations are responding to current management strategies.

From sunrise until three hours after sunrise, KDWPT biologists will work with a contracted aerial service company to operate three helicopters throughout the state’s prairie chicken range (western, northcentral and eastern portions of the state). Surveys will be conducted during the prairie chicken lekking period when the birds are displaying on leks – also called “booming grounds.” While surveying, the helicopters will fly pre-determined routes at altitudes less than 50 feet above the ground.

Data collected from the aerial surveys will be used in conjunction with data from KDWPT’s annual ground surveys to inform future management efforts.

Initial results will be available beginning July 1. For more information on prairie chickens in Kansas, including a map of the species’ range, visit