Research finds fire ants harming prairie chickens

AP News
Posted: Apr 05, 2012 3:26 PM
Research finds fire ants harming prairie chickens

New research shows that trapping fire ants could help save wildlife, including at least one endangered species.

The voracious fire ants were accidentally imported in a ship's ballast to the United States in the 1930s. They have damaged agriculture, soil and wildlife in the southeastern United States.

In Texas, they've also hurt the recovery of endangered Attwater Prairie Chickens by consuming insects baby chickens need for food.

A study released Thursday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed trapping fire ants resulted in twice as many insects and a greater variety of insects in the test area. That led to a rebound in the prairie chicken population.

The manager of the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, Terry Rossignol, says similar efforts elsewhere could help other wildlife.