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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan wildlife biologists are postponing a release of sharp-tailed grouse in the western Upper Peninsula because of prolonged wintry weather.

The species hasn’t been seen regularly in the area since the mid-1990s.

Scientists with the Department of Natural Resources had planned to capture about 20 of the birds in the eastern U.P. and turn them loose on the western end, in Ontonagon County. But with several feet of snow on the ground, officials say the grouse’s prospects for survival in their new habitat would be poor.

Wildlife division chief Russ Mason says they’ll try again next spring.

Sharp-tailed grouse are ground-oriented birds, about one-third larger than ruffed grouse.

Their numbers have dropped in the western U.P. as the grasslands they prefer have become more heavily forested.