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Prairie grouse numbers spike across western South Dakota

PIERRE (AP) -- A survey by state Game, Fish and Parks biologists has found the numbers of sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens are up across western South Dakota.

PIERRE (AP) - A survey by state Game, Fish and Parks biologists has found the numbers of sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens are up across western South Dakota.

The spike goes against the long-term trend of declining numbers that's likely due to the loss of rangeland.

Grouse populations also are heavily influenced by weather. The Capital Journal reports a good spring or two can lead to a bumper crop of birds, and that's likely what happened over the past year.

Officials earlier this month said the number of prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse counted on the Fort Pierre National Grassland in central South Dakota was the highest in recorded history.

Upland game biologist Alex Solem says 2016 could be a good year for prairie grouse, if the weather remains favorable this month.

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