Drought effecting South Dakota wildlife

An ongoing drought in South Dakota is taking a toll on wildlife in the state. The Forest Service reports that the grouse population—including greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) and sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) —on the Fort Pierre National Grassland has declined by 15% due to the dry conditions. Female grouse rely on dead grass from the previous year to provide cover for laying eggs and raising chicks, but last summer’s drought prevented much of the grass growth, leaving them more exposed to predators. Dry wetlands and ponds are also expected to lead to a reduction in duck productivity. Over 76% of the state is in the midst of a drought, the Associated Press reports.

Read more from the Associated Press.

Header Image: Female prairie-chickens depend on tall, dead grass to provide cover for laying eggs and raising chicks in the spring. Credit: Dave Menke/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service