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Great Bustards to be released in Britain

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BATH, England, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Researchers plan to release 19 Russian-born Great Bustards, the world's heaviest flying birds, on Britain's Salisbury Plain in a reintroduction project.

The globally threatened Great Bustard, which can weigh more than 40 pounds, became extinct in the United Kingdom during the Victorian era due to hunting and habitat loss.

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Bath University researchers, working with conservationists, are managing the reintroduction of the birds while they study existing wild populations in Russia.

The birds, to be released Thursday, represent the fifth batch of young birds from Russia to be set free on the central Britain site. They will join the small flock of birds from the previous four years' releases that are still regular visitors to the site at Salisbury Plain.

The release will be filmed by the BBC's Autumn Watch program and will be aired later this year.

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