Thursday, June 12, 2014

2014 Wisconsin's ruffed grouse population declines again

Doug Smith

Ruffed grouse populations in Wisconsin have dropped slightly again this spring as the population heads for the bottom of its boom-to-bust cycle.

Wisconsin's roadside grouse survey showed a 1 percent decline from last year.

"This decrease is quite minor, and isn't unexpected at this point in the population cycle,'' said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife surveys coordinator.

 Ruffed grouse populations are known to rise and fall over a nine to 11 year cycle. The last peak in Wisconsin's cycle occurred in 2011

"We are headed to the low point in the cycle, which usually occurs in years ending in a 4, 5, or 6, so we are either at the low point or getting close; only time will tell," Dhuey said.

Minnesota's spring grouse drumming survey was recently completed, but the results won't be available until next month. Minnesota's population, too, is on the downswing, but grouse fans are hoping the snowy winter helped more birds survive. Grouse burrow in light, fluffy snow for safety.

In Wisconsin, one of the primary regions for grouse in the state, the central region, showed a 24 percent drop in the number of drums heard per stop. A second primary region in northern Wisconsin showed a 3 percent increase.