New York Natural Heritage Program
King Rail
Rallus elegans Audubon, 1834

Threats [-]
Wetland habitat loss, degradation, and drainage as a result of agricultural practices and development are the most critical threats for the King Rail, followed by accidental take in furbearer traps, predation, and striking manmade objects during migration. The King Rail is a game bird but is rarely hunted and the effects of hunting on populations is largely unknown. In states where it is severely threatened, including New York, the season is closed. (Meanly 1969, 1992, Eddleman et al. 1988)

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Manage waterfowl areas that have known king rail nesting sites in ways that are compatible with rail species by maximizing cover for nesting. Avoid altering natural features that could be potential nesting habitat. Remove invasive species such as purple loosestrife if it is severely degrading the habitat. Wetland draining in the northern range, if necessary, should occur before nest establishment. Different areas of wetlands where king rails are known to nest should be flooded or drained in different years to maintain optimal habitat. In states where King Rails are still hunted, monitor the harvest and consider closing the season if populations severely decline. (Eddleman et al. 1988)

Research Needs [-]
Additional research is needed on population dynamics and the effects of land management practices on King Rails, specifically in relation to waterfowl management. More refined census techniques with careful documentation of breeding is a high priority. Determination of winter status and distribution is also needed. (Eddleman et al. 1988)