What Does It Do?

One of the most important activities of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is protection and management of threatened and endangered species. The checkoff has been able to fund dozens of projects that assess the status of threatened and endangered species and other animals on the state's Species in Need of Conservation list.

Chickadee

One of the more exciting projects of the checkoff was the golden eagle reintroduction project in Russell and Ellsworth counties. The goal of the project was to establish nesting golden eagles in that area in cooperation with Western Resources, Inc. Food base for Golden Eagles, primarily black-tailed prairie dogs, continued in decline in the area which hampered success. While cottontail rabbits were provided as food for young eaglets, they never were able to adapt fully without prairie dogs as well to supplement a mixed diet and encourage later nesting. Occasionally, Golden Eagles nest in two to three places in Western Kansas but we not been able to enjoy expanded nesting and populations. Perhaps with additional food base improvements, especially prairie dog towns, there could be opportunity for more Golden Eagles in the state.

For several years the Chickadee Checkoff sponsored the Nursing Home Bird Feeder Program with tremendous success. Over 250 sites have been provided with bird feeders and initial bird feed. This was one of the first projects funded through the checkoff in 1981.

Another of the first projects subsidized by the checkoff was the Songbird Bundle supplied by the Kansas Forest Service. The bundle consists of several species of shrubs and small trees suitable for backyard wildlife habitat plantings. The plants are selected because they provide food, cover and habitat for a variety of desirable animals.

Since 1985, the checkoff has sponsored the Backyard Habitat Improvement Program. Besides providing information and assistance to people for improving their yards for wildlife, a certification program is offered to recognize those people who have done the necessary or exemplary things for wildlife in their own backyards.

The Chickadee Checkoff has supported the Kansas Winter Bird Feeder Survey since 1988. About 1000 people have participated in past years and provided valuable information about midwinter bird populations.

Research and habitat management have focused on sensitive river species in southeast Kansas, dwindling resources in western Kansas and endangered species such as the Least Tern.

The Outdoor Wildlife Learning Sites Program (OWLS) has been one of the most popular programs initiated and supported by the checkoff. Over 200 schools have taken advantage of OWLS grants in developing outdoor learning laboratories.

The Chickadee Checkoff has supported hundreds of research and surveying projects to help determine the status of nongame species. Nearly 300 projects have been funded through the 30 year history of the checkoff to better understand nongame wildlife of Kansas.

Perhaps the most value of the checkoff has been its role in supplying match funding for the larger federal State Wildlife Grants Program (SWG.) While the checkoff has supplied over 4 million dollars through the years, much of this money has been used as leverage for much larger amounts from the SWG program. Major projects funded through this matching of dollars have included the two major on-line atlases for reptiles, amphibians and mammals, natural area evaluations in Northeast Kansas, support for prairie re-establishments, and major survey work for sensitive aquatic species.

Even though a meager portion of our state wildlife agency's total budget, the Chickadee Checkoff has made a big difference. Thirty years ago, there was very little information being pursued about nongame wildlife. Today, with the additional support of match funding with SWG, there have been major strides made for the conservation of all wildlife, but particularly those nongame species of which so little is known.