Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NY State seeks to increase spruce grouse

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the adoption of a Spruce Grouse Recovery Plan. The Spruce grouse were listed as a threatened species in New York in 1983, but were later moved to the endangered species list in 1999. As is the case with so many wildlife species, changing habitat had taken its toll. In this case the loss of boreal forests in upstate New York caused population declines which are now not likely to recover without human intervention.

Dutchess County’s ruffed grouse population has all but disappeared from the landscape. In my younger years grouse hunting was one of my favorite pastimes, these days you have to look far and wide to find one. Again, loss of habitat was and is a major contributor to the problem.

Along with the habitat problems the Spruce grouse suffers additional vulnerabilities due to its lack of fear of humans. This makes it an extremely east bird to hunt. Although it is illegal to hunt them in New York, they are sometimes mistaken for the ruffed grouse.

When making the announcement that the plan had been adopted, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, “Recommendations in the plan are intended to stabilize and improve the distribution and abundance of this rare bird species and ultimately increase its population," Commissioner Martens said. "The spruce grouse is an historic resident of New York State and represents an important and visible component of the forest community."

Residents of the Hudson Valley could go an entire lifetime without ever seeing a Spruce grouse because they inhabit the Adirondack region, and not broadly even at that. There are just a few more than a dozen fragmented populations and in total they represent barely more than 6,000 birds. Even that may be a more than generous estimate.

More info and complete Poughkeepsie Journal article

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