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Energy and Environment
KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

State Birds Imperiled By Grassland Habitat Destruction And Climate Change

The lark bunting is Colorado's state bird
The lark bunting is Colorado's state bird

Some state birds across our region are in peril, according to a new report on the condition of North American Grasslands.

The Audubon Society’s study shows that grassland ecosystems and prairies are shrinking at alarming rates because of urban, agricultural, and energy development. And it’s impacting the birds that call these grasslands home.

Chad Wilsey, the report’s lead author, said this was also the first year Audubon looked at the impact of climate change on these species. He said the list of prairie-dwelling birds vulnerable to global warming includes Colorado’s state bird, the lark bunting. And also the state bird of Montana and Wyoming, the western meadowlark.  

“As it turns out,” Wilsey said, “42 percent of grassland bird species that we looked at are highly vulnerable to climate change.”

Wilsey said the report calls for a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, but also outlines ways ranchers and landowners in particular can help create and conserve better habitat for these fragile species.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2019 KRCC