A captive Attwater's prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri; APC) breeding program was initiated in 1992 to avoid extinction of the APC, currently one of the most endangered birds in the United States. We addressed the efficacy of using pen-reared birds to supplement wild populations or to establish new populations. From 19 July 1996 to 30 October 1997, we released 119 pen-reared APC on Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge (APCNWR) and Galveston Bay Prairie Preserve (GBPP), in an effort to supplement wild populations. We used radiotelemetry to determine survival, movements, and reproduction of pen-raised APC. We evaluated the effects of acclimation period, date of release, transmitter style, and release habitat on post-release survival. Birds held in acclimation pens for 14 days experienced higher 6-month survival than those held for 3 days (47.4% and 19.4%, respectively). We did not observe a difference in survival for different date of release, release habitats, or transmitter styles. Survival 2 weeks post-release was similar for birds released in 1996 and 1997 on APCNWR (61.7% and 50.8%, respectively) and on GBPP (75.0% and 81.8%, respectively). Movements and monthly ranges for juvenile males and females were similar to those of wild APC. Overall site and year nest success was 44%. Recruitment on APCNWR was zero, while recruitment on GBPP was unknown. Future research is needed to determine why broods did not survive.
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Vol. 69 • No. 3