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Wildlife Photography Events to Feature Sage Grouse, Conservation
Noppadol Paothong, Professional Photographer, (573) 821-0276
LARAMIE, Wyo. – Professional Photographer Noppadol Paothong will tour three western states presenting photography from his book ‘Save the Last Dance,’ giving audiences an intimate glimpse into the spectacular mating rituals of the grassland grouse, including greater sage grouse, Gunnison sage grouse, and lesser prairie chicken. The events, which will feature narrated slide shows highlighting the fascinating behaviors of these imperiled birds, as well as the factors that threaten them with extinction, will be held in late August in Salt Lake City, Utah; Missoula, Montana; and Jackson and Laramie, Wyoming.
Paothong, a native of Thailand who now lives in Missouri, came to the US to attend college, but soon discovered his passion and talents for wildlife photography.
“I first encountered prairie chicken in southwest Missouri in March 2001 as an assignment from a newspaper I was working for at that time,” said Paothong. “For some reason their dance and call touched me deeply, and that was the beginning of my decade-long journey. I believe the only way these birds can get the support they desperately need and deserve is to make people care about them. I hope people can glimpse the life and beauty of these extraordinary species through my book and talk. If a person like me, who grew up in a city on a continent 10,000 miles away can fall in love with these birds, anybody can. If only they get to know them.”
Paothong’s program comes at a time when federal agencies are ramping up protections for sage grouse through land-use plans. Efforts to conserve the birds pit conservation against industrial interests, a struggle that will determine whether adequate protections can be achieved through federal plans, or whether Endangered Species Act protections will be needed for the imperiled birds.
“Sage grouse are one of the most iconic, unusual, and fascinating of western wildlife species, yet many people have never seen their mating dance,” said Erik Molvar, wildlife biologist with WildEarth Guardians. “Noppadol’s photography and behind-the-scenes stories make a compelling case that this is a bird we can’t afford to lose.”
“While documenting these birds I’ve witnessed their rapid decline firsthand. In many places where I had photographed them, they have disappeared forever, in a matter of a decade, due to ongoing habitant disturbance and land fragmentation,” added Paothong. “It is heartbreaking. We don’t know how much they can hang on without more consistent and systematic conservation efforts. Not only we have an obligation to keep these amazing birds for our future generation, but also losing grouse is a sign of prairie’s disappearance, an ecosystem that is home to grassland grouse and a host of interdependent wildlife and plants.”
Paothong’s program will take place at the following locations (all showtimes are 7 p.m.):
* Sunday, August 24th - Brewvies, 677 South 200 West, Salt Lake City, Utah
* Monday, August 25th – The Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave., Missoula, Montana
* Wednesday, August 27th – The National Museum of Wildlife Art, 2820 Rungius Rd., Jackson, Wyoming
* Thursday, August 28th – Ag Auditorium, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming
The programs are timed to bear witness to the 100-year anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon; the last passenger pigeon on Earth died in a zoo on September 1, 1914.
These events are sponsored by WildEarth Guardians in cooperation with local conservation groups, with funding from the Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation.
Images of the photographer and his work are available for courtesy use in news stories upon request.
-BRIEFING MATERIALS FOLLOW-
Program: Saving the Last Dance through the eyes of a photographer.
In this program, Noppadol Paothong will showcase his book, “Save the Last Dance – A Story of North American Grassland Grouse” – a book he worked on over a decade. He will share stories from his 11-year journey of documenting these highly endangered extraordinary birds, along with his captivating images of the species’ mating rituals and habitats and interesting videos from behind the scenes. This book strives to rescue grassland grouse from the brink of extinction by showing the world what it stands to lose if these species are allowed to disappear forever.
Noppadol Paothong’s Biography:
Noppadol Paothong is a staff wildlife photographer with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). His images appear in the monthly publication, Missouri Conservationist, and many other MDC’s publications. With a monthly circulation of over 500,000, the Missouri Conservationist is known as one of the largest and high quality state conservation magazines.
Paothong focuses on documenting rare and endangered species. More specifically, he has worked primarily on grassland grouse and their fragile habitat for over a decade.
Paothong is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including Picture of the Year International, National Wildlife Photo Contest, Nature’s Best, Audubon Photo Contest, Outdoor Writers Association of America Photo Contest, and Missouri Photojournalist of the Year. His photos have also appeared in several national publications, including National Wildlife, Ranger Rick, Audubon, Birder’s Word, Nature Conservancy, Field & Stream, and many more.
His recently published book on North American grassland grouse, “Save the Last Dance,” includes over a decade of work. The 204-page hardbound book, Save the Last Dance, a Story of North American Grassland Grouse, captures the dazzling beauty of seven grouse species whose populations are diminishing across the prairies and plains of America – and one species that already lost its battle for survival.
Paothong lives in Columbia, Missouri, with his wife, daughter, and two golden retrievers.