Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New Mexico
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

New Mexico Project

White-tailed Ptarmigan Reintroduction Ecology

April 2021 - June 2024


Participating Agencies

  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The white-tailed ptarmigan is the smallest grouse species in North America and is endemic to alpine habitat. Despite reintroduction efforts in the 1980s, ptarmigan are now functionally extirpated from the southernmost portion of their historic range, located in northern New Mexico. Due to a lack of monitoring, the causes of extirpation remain unclear, and could be attributed to climate change, geographic isolation, or other unknown causes. This study will evaluate the demographic outcomes of a newly-reintroduced ptarmigan population from Colorado. The study will also compare habitat selection patterns as well as chick diet composition and growth rates with ptarmigan populations in Colorado. The information collected in this study will be central to informing future reintroduction efforts in both New Mexico and other portions of the species range where they are now extirpated (e.g. ,Wyoming), and guide management and conservation efforts of New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in future species status assessments.