Ruffed grouse counts decline in 10-year cycle

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Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were lower than last year across most of the bird’s range, according to a survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Compared with drumming counts conducted last year, 2012 survey results showed an average decline of 24 to 60 percent in the northeast survey region, which is the core and bulk of grouse range in Minnesota.

Mike Larson, DNR wildlife research group leader and grouse biologist said the grouse population is in the declining phase of its 10-year cycle.

Ruffed grouse populations, which tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle, are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions.

Minnesota frequently is the nation’s top ruffed grouse producer. On average, 115,000 hunters harvest 545,000 ruffed grouse in Minnesota each year, also making it the state's most popular game bird.

A long-range ruffed grouse habitat and population management plan is now available on the DNR’s website.


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