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The 40-Foot Pheasant

By Linda Tancs

When the first settlers of the Dakota Territory arrived in the 1880s, rumors swirled about a giant pheasant.  Legend has it that the elusive bird produced the winds of the Dakota Prairie, his footprints in the spring forming creeks and river valleys.  The tale is memorialized on Highway 14 in Huron, South Dakota in the form of a 28 foot, 22 ton fiberglass pheasant.  Eight miles west of Huron on the highway you can see real ringnecks at the Maga Ta-Hohpi Waterfowl Production Area, part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Named Maga Ta-Hohpi (meaning “duck nest) by the Sioux Indians who dedicated the area in 1992, the refuge system includes breeding and nesting habitats for millions of waterfowl and is home to hundreds of wildlfie species including fish, migratory birds, pheasants, deer, and many other plants and animals.

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