MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is assisting with research on the migration of the American woodcock along the Eastern Seaboard.

The department has joined the Eastern Woodcock Migration Research Cooperative, which it says is an international research collaboration that uses of Global Positioning Systems technology to better understand the bird's migration ecology.

In September, 18 woodcock were captured and outfitted with GPS units in three areas in Vermont, the department said. The field work was led by PhD students from the University of Maine with help from department members, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, the Vermont Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and Audubon Vermont, officials said.

The study is intended to track the movement and habitat selection of the American woodcock during pre-migration periods in the Northeast and southern Canadian provinces, migration paths and stopovers, wintering periods in southeastern states, and migration routes back to northern breeding grounds, the department said.

Biologists have observed a slow decline in woodcock numbers in the past four decades in the Northeast, Migratory Game Bird Biologist David Sausville said in a written statement.

“This is a very important step to better understand woodcock in Vermont,” he said. “Our involvement is a critical piece in understanding their behavior and population distribution across the entire eastern management region."

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