At their regular meeting on July 17, the Fish and Game Council unanimously voted to close the ruffed grouse hunting season statewide. Recognizing that grouse populations in the state were declining, the season length and daily bag limit were reduced, and the state was divided into two zones, in 2005, with the southern zone having a shorter season than the northern zone. The closure takes effect immediately.
Ruffed grouse populations in the state have declined due to lack of suitable habitat (young-aged forests) which they require. Such forests now comprise less than 1% of the state's forests. Anecdotal reports of hunters seeing grouse have dwindled as forests continue to age due to lack of forest management. Although hunting is not the cause of the decline, and in fact, the number of grouse hunters has a parallel declining trend, the Division and the Fish and Game Council feels that current grouse population levels cannot support a hunt at this time.