The University of Kansas has a $2.1 million contract to study the lesser prairie chicken.
The university will work with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to track the federally threatened species in hopes of conserving the birds’ habitat.
A conservation plan by the association calls for voluntary cooperation from industries in Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Kansas.
Kansas has the largest prairie chicken population of those states.
The Kansas Biological Survey of the university for five years will monitor the location and costs of projects that impact the animal’s habitat.
The plan is to encourage industries to build in clusters rather than spreading over a lot of territory.
Kansas Biological Survey research associate Mike Houts says fewer prairie chickens means changes to shortgrass and shrubland habitats.