FireAntEater™ Informational Article 
Fire ants destruction fosters
prairie chicken’s recovery

Prairie chickens and other wildlife stand to benefit from fire ants’ demise

Houston – Trapping voracious fire ants has helped the recovery of an endangered prairie chicken in Texas and could help other wild life, according to researched released Thursday.

Red imported fire ants have cost the Texas economy about $1.2 billion annually. The research conducted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that, by laying traps to kill fire ants, some of the damage can be prevented.

In Texas, fire ants have consumed insects that are the main food source for Attwater prairie chickens. Said Terry Rossignol, manager of the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge near Eagle Lake, about 60 miles west of Houston.

In 2009, the Wildlife Service, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and two private non-profits, treated a 760 acre area of the refuge for fire ants. Their findings showed that areas with traps had twice as many insects as those with no traps., Rossignol said.

Also, the survival of Attwater chicks increased; In 2011, researchers counted 82 birds on the refuge, the most since 1990, he said.

“If control of the fire ants to increase the insect population is what it takes in order for the chicks to survive, then it would be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the recovery of the species,” Rossignol said. “But we are aware of the fact that this is a grander scale issue that is not only affecting the Attwater prairie chickens, but other wildlife, bobwhite quail, white tail deer, frogs and toads.”

The Associated Press

Acknowledgement: This news article appeared in the February 6, 2012 edition of the Dallas Morning News.

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