Prairie Chicken's Trek Surprises Iowa Scientists

A male greater prairie chicken displays on a booming ground located at the Kellerton Bird Conservation Area near Kellerton. (image via Iowa DNR)

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By Richard Pratt

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The long, circular path taken by a prairie chicken has surprised Iowa researchers.

The hen was fitted with a GPS tracker and released April 4 near Kellerton in south-central Iowa. It has logged nearly 1,200 miles since, flying south into northern Missouri and back again, as far north as Guthrie County in Iowa. The bird seems to have settled down in Union County.

Jen Vogel is a research associate at Iowa State University who has monitored Bird No. 112. Vogel says researchers expected the bird to range across perhaps 50 miles. Vogel told The Des Moines Register that researchers "really didn't expect this distance."

Scientists have been trying to re-establish the birds in Iowa, where they once were plentiful. Bird No. 112 came from Nebraska.

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