Policy: Environment & Energy

Prairie chickens fly from Kansas to Illinois --- in state aircraft, at $1,000 a bird

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Watchdog,Illinois,Kelly Cohen,Follow the Money,Energy and Environment,Animals,Endangered Species Act,Birds,Prairie Chicken

Despite being strapped for cash, the Illinois state government is spending more than $1,000 per bird on relocating prairie chickens into the state.

State aircraft are flying to Kansas and transporting prairie chickens back to Illinois, according to

Prairie chickens are an endangered species.

Fourteen flights have been made between Illinois and Kansas this year, taking the prairie chickens to downstate Jasper and Marion counties.

The prairie chicken program will get $337,000 from the federal government and $117,000 from the state.

So far this year, the state has relocated 50 cocks and 41 hens — that's $1,166 per bird.

"This is an egregious abuse of tax dollars," said state Rep. Bill Mitchell, a Forsyth Republican.

Not only is the price per bird expensive, but the state aircraft is as well. Last year, Illinois spent $7.3 million operating the fleet, according to Illinois Watchdog.

“Illinois is the Prairie State and prairie chickens are an endangered species here, so we thought it would be a good idea to bring them back,” said Scott Simpson, site manager for Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Newton, Ill.

Read the full article here.

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Kelly Cohen

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner