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Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN Category IV (Habitat/Species Management Area)
Attwater's Prairie Chicken.jpg
Attwater's prairie chicken
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge is located in the United States
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
Location in the United States
Location Colorado County, Texas, United States
Nearest city Sealy, Texas
Area 10,528 acres (42.61 km2)
Established 1972
Governing body U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Website Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge
Designated: 1968

Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, is a federally protected refugium encompassing one of the largest remnants of coastal prairie habitat remaining in southeast Texas, United States and home to one of the last populations of the critically endangered Attwater's prairie chicken, a ground-dwelling grouse of the coastal prairie ecosystem.

The 10,528 acre (43 km²) refuge, located in eastern Colorado County, approximately 60 miles (100 km) west of Houston, Texas, was established in 1972, and is one of a handful of national wildlife refuges managed specifically for an endangered species. In 1968, Attwater Prairie Chicken Preserve was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

In the mid-1960s, the World Wildlife Fund purchased 3,500 acres (14 km2) of land to preserve some remaining coastal prairie for the Attwater's Prairie Chicken. The land was transferred to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 1972, which brought the refuge up to its current acreage.

Many of the Attwater's prairie chickens in the refuge are hatched at captive breeding programs at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Texas A&M University, SeaWorld San Antonio, Abilene Zoo, Caldwell Zoo, Houston Zoo, and San Antonio Zoo. Chicks are fitted with a radio transmitter and released at the refuge once they are capable of independent survival.

To maintain the prairie ecosystem, the refuge staff does prescribed burns of 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) to 3,000 acres (12 km2) annually in January or February. The burns help invigorate the grasses by removing dead stems and control the growth of brush and invasive species of plants. The staff also converts formerly cultivated land in the refuge back to prairie by replanting native grasses.

Over 250 species of birds in addition to the Attwater's prairie chicken have been observed in the refuge. Some of these include the fulvous whistling duck, black-bellied whistling duck, white-tailed hawk, crested caracara, scissor-tailed flycatcher, dickcissel, roseate spoonbill, anhinga, Sprague's pipit, and sandhill crane. Mammals in the refuge include plains bison, thirteen-lined ground squirrel, bobcats, coyotes, nine-banded armadillo, and white-tailed deer. American alligators share the ponds with softshell turtles. American bullfrog and upland chorus frog calls are heard in the refuge.

Indian paintbrush, bluebonnets, and Butterfly milkweed are some of the many wildflowers that bloom in the park.

The refuge has an auto tour and two hiking trails. The auto tour loop winds through five miles (8 km) of coastal prairie habitat. The Pipit Trail to the Refuge Lake is 1.5 miles. The Sycamore Trail transects 1.2 miles (1.9 km) of coastal prairie as well as a section of forest in the Coushatta Creek bottomland.

Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge gallery

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

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