Northern Ruffed Grouse Season To End On Jan. 5-Reason: Lower Numbers

Nov 6, 2019

Ruffed Grouse
Credit Ryan Brady DNR

Park Falls is known as the Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World. The habitat in the region proves to be one of the prime locations for ruffed grouse. But several factors have happened together this year to shorten the hunting season in most of Wisconsin for the prized bird.

An emergency rule is closing hunting north and west of a line from Green Bay to Madison from Jan. 31, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2020. The rule will go into effect on Friday, Nov. 8.

DNR upland wildlife ecologist Mark Witecha says officials took the action after a surprising set of facts came to light...

"...We saw a fairly significant population decline that was fairly unexpected between 2017 and 2018. That raised quite a bit of alarm among our stakeholders. In response to that concern, the Natural Resources Board had shortened the 2018 season. We still don't have a lot of answers as to what caused that decline still today...."

The emergency rule does not impact season dates for the zone south and east of the Madison to Green Bay line. Witecha says if the state approves, the season might be permanently shortened...

"....In the Ruffed Grouse management plan which is currently being finalized, it will be presented to the Natural Resources Board in December, that plan calls for a shortened season. Similar to other small game seasons. The Ruffed Grouse season would end on the Sunday nearest January 6...."

Bag limits remain at three birds in this region for this shortened season.