More Ruffed Grouse Heard In Northwoods This Spring Than Last Year

Jun 28, 2019

Ruffed grouse
Credit Starjournalnow.com

There's apparently more of a popular game bird. Roadside ruffed grouse surveys completed this spring show statewide drumming activity increased 41 percent in the last year. This increase aligns with the generally predictable grouse population cycle.

DNR upland wildlife ecologist Mark Witecha says the large increase in 2019 has made up for much of the unanticipated decline seen in last year's drumming surveys and appears to put Wisconsin back on track for approaching the next cyclical high in the ruffed grouse population...

"...Looking at our core range for grouse in the state of Wisconsin, ruffed grouse populations are up about 35 percent in the central forests and about 48 percent in the northern forest which we consider is our core range for ruffed grouse. What these results tell us is there were more breeding grouse out on the landscape this spring. Assuming we have decent conditions for broodering through the summer, that should translate into more grouse in the woods for grouse enthusiasts this fall...."

Witcha says in the Great Lakes states there's a 10 year population cycle. He says the peaks typically arise in year's that end in zero and the lowest populations tend to be in years ending in five's.

West Nile Virus is a concern as ruffed grouse are a species that is affected by the mosquito's bite...

"...We are awaiting results from the lab that is conducting all the analysis of the samples from Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. We're anticipating those results later this summer, probably late July or early August..."

West Nile Virus has hurt the population of crows, bluejays and other species. Other birds species don't appear to be affected.