Landmark Deal Ushers in a New Era of Prairie Grouse Conservation

In June 2015 the Society of Tympanuchus Cupido Pinnatus, Ltd. (STCP) struck a major deal with the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center (Sutton Center) which will benefit prairie grouse research and conservation efforts well into the future. The agreement involved dissolution of STCP, with $1M of the proceeds being generously gifted to the Sutton Center. These funds are being targeted toward supporting and expanding research and conservation studies on prairie grouse at the Sutton Center.

STCP, which was founded in Wisconsin in 1961, has a long history of studying and conserving prairie grouse. In recent years their focus shifted from purchasing and protecting land for the Greater Prairie-chicken in Wisconsin, to broader endeavors in grouse research and conservation across the American prairies. Because this evolving effort aligned well with the Sutton Center’s conservation and research efforts with grouse, and because STCP was developing a focus well outside of a single species in a restricted area, the Board of Directors of the STCP decided the most effective way of supporting prairie grouse conservation was to throw their full support behind the grouse research and conservation programs at the Sutton Center.

During their combined 85-year history, STCP and the Sutton Center have independently contributed much to the scientific understanding of grouse such as Greater and Lesser Prairie-chickens. The arrangement between our organizations promises to advance upland bird research and conservation by not only pooling financial resources under the Sutton Center, but also through the synergizing effects of exceptional STCP personnel who have joined the Sutton Center staff and Board. The Sutton Center will also be the recipient of an extensive collection of manuscripts, databases, and preserved specimens that will be archived at the Sutton Center or affiliated departments at the University of Oklahoma.

Under the agreement, longtime STCP Research Consultant Dr. John Toepfer joined the Sutton Center as the first STCP/Hamerstrom Prairie Grouse Research Chair. He is continuing his life’s work of conducting and publishing scientific research on prairie grouse. Since the mid 1970’s Dr. Toepfer has been studying and actively working to conserve grouse across the American prairies and has published more than 60 scientific and popular press articles about this research. In 2003 the National Prairie Grouse Technical Council awarded him The Hamerstrom Award for outstanding contributions in the field of prairie grouse biology. He has the opportunity to earn Adjunct Professor status at the University of Oklahoma and, in this capacity, can continue to help plan, conduct, mentor students, and publish about prairie grouse research.

The arrangement also opened four positions on the Sutton Center Board of Directors for former Directors of STCP. Collectively, the Sutton Center Board is continuing to help direct the growth of the organization, while also striving to ensure that the legacy of the STCP remains a guiding presence.

We believe that this arrangement will provide for continued focused conservation efforts and has helped to elevate the Sutton Center’s status as a leading research center for grouse conservation.

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