MADISON - Ruffed grouse populations in Wisconsin have shown another slight decline this spring, according to a recent roadside ruffed grouse survey. Results from this survey help DNR biologists monitor the cyclic population trends of ruffed grouse in the state.
"The index that Wisconsin uses to track ruffed grouse decreased 1 percent between 2013 and 2014," said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife surveys coordinator. "This decrease is quite minor, and isn't unexpected at this point in the population cycle. 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."
Roadside surveys to monitor the number of breeding grouse have been conducted by staff from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, tribal groups and numerous grouse enthusiasts and volunteers since 1964. Surveyors begin 30 minutes before sunrise and drive along established routes, making 10 stops at assigned points and listening for four minutes for the distinctive "thump, thump, thump" sound made by drumming male grouse.
The number of drums heard per stop in 2014 was down 1 percent statewide from the previous year. 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.
Complete survey results can be found by visiting dnr.wi.gov and searching for "wildlife reports." For more information on ruffed grouse in Wisconsin, search "ruffed grouse hunting."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861 or Brian Dhuey, wildlife surveys coordinator, 608-221-6342