Almost 4,400 acres of land located between Duluth and Minnesota’s northern border have been acquired by St. Louis County, thanks to efforts by two conservation groups. The deal will transfer lands from forest products company PotlatchDeltic to the county for permanent protection and public access.
The county will manage the lands for recreation, wildlife, and sustainable timber harvest.
“PotlatchDeltic was one of the largest private industrial forest landowners in St. Louis County, and the impact of that land being sold and developed would reverberate across the North Woods,” said Daryl Peterson, director of restoration programs with the Minnesota Land Trust. “Once land is sold off to a hundred different parties, it is nearly impossible to manage the incredible forest ecosystems native to northern Minnesota.”
The Minnesota Land Trust and The Conservation Fund purchased the four large parcels with $4.2 million provided by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment, and then donated them to St. Louis County. The deal was the biggest in Minnesota Land Trust history since it was founded in 1991. Additional funding came from the Four Cedars Environmental Fund of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation, and the Wallin family.
The protected land fosters many types of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, gray wolves, Canada lynx, and ruffed grouse. It also provides habitat for sensitive bird species, located at the edge of breeding ranges for the Golden-winged and Blackburnian Warbler, as well as the American Woodcock.
This week on Outdoor Bound TV, we get ready to hit the woods at famous Bowen Lodge in Northern Minnesota for a little October grouse and woodcock hunting with a group of friends, who gather each year, from all over the U.S., to take part in this special weekend. Come on along, as it's all about good friends, good food and great hunting.
Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring population counts are similar to last year and likely are following the 10-year cycle of rise and fall—a predictable pattern recorded for 71 years. Due to COVID-related restrictions, this past spring’s drumming counts in southeastern Minnesota were not conducted as planned.
As the DNR was able to resume more field operations in May, there was still time to conduct drumming counts in more northerly portions of the state, where grouse breeding occurs later.
While spring drumming counts that were conducted produced similar results as last year, only having counts from the northern region—which has more forest and holds more grouse—likely means the statewide index is higher than it would be if the southeastern region was included.
Some consider the ruffed grouse the “king of game birds” because it’s a challenge to pursue, a thrill to witness on the wing and a delicious wild game entrée when served. These birds are native to Minnesota—the top ruffed grouse-producing state in the coterminous United States, with millions of acres of public land for hunters and their dogs to explore.
Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population. However, the number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer.
The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer.
If production of young birds is low during the summer months, hunters may see fewer birds than expected based on counts of drumming males in the spring. Conversely, when production of young is high, hunters may see more birds in the fall.
The 2020 survey results for ruffed grouse were 1.6 drums per stop. The averages during 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 were 1.1, 1.3, 2.1, 1.5 and 1.6 respectively. Counts vary from about 0.6 drums per stop during the years of cyclical low grouse abundance to about 2.0 during years of high abundance.
Drum counts were 1.7 drums per stop in the northeast survey region; counts were 1.2 drums per stop in the northwest; 1.2 drums per stop in the central hardwoods; and no routes were completed during the appropriate survey window in the southeast survey region.
Drumming is a low sound produced by males as they beat their wings rapidly and in increasing frequency to signal the location of their territory. Drumming displays also attract females that are ready to begin nesting. Ruffed grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions.
“In a typical year we have 16 cooperating organizations providing folks to help us count grouse drumming,” Roy said. “We are grateful to our federal and tribal partners, some of whom conducted extra routes to get surveys completed during the pandemic.”
Biologists were not able to collect sharp-tailed grouse survey data this year during the pandemic.
The Minnesota grouse hunting season opens on Saturday, Sept. 19. More information about ruffed grouse hunting and sampling, the grouse survey report and West Nile virus is available on the DNR grouse hunting page.
RESULTS & DISCUSSION Ruffed GrouseObservers from 11 cooperating organizations surveyed 102 routes (80% of all routes) between 21 April and 13 May 2020, with 84% of northern routes completed and 42% of southern routes completed. Most routes (89%) were surveyed between 21 April and 10 May, with a median survey date of May 6, which is similar to last year (May 4) and the median survey date for the most recent 10 years (May 3). Observers reported Excellent (61%), Good (37%), and Fair (2%) survey conditions for 95 routes reporting conditions.
Statewide counts of ruffed grouse drums averaged 1.6 dps (95% confidence interval = 1.2–1.9dps) during 2020 (Figure 3). Drum counts were 1.7 (1.3–2.0) dps in the Northeast survey region (n = 92 routes), 1.2 (1.0–1.3) dps in the Northwest survey region (n = 5), 1.2 (0.4–2.2) dps in the Central Hardwoods survey region (n = 10), and no routes were completed during the appropriate survey window in the Southeast survey region (Figure 4a-d).
Statewide drum counts were similar to last year. I received 5 surveys from 2019 after the report was written last year, and updated results are included here. The southern survey regions tend to have lower average counts than the northern regions each year, and because southern regions were not surveyed in 2020, the statewide index is likely higher than it would be if southern routes were included. In the Northeast and Northwest, counts were similar to or down from last year, respectively. In the Central Hardwoods, observers surveyed only the northern portion of the region where counts tend to be higher, which likely explains the slightly higher, although not statistically different, dps in this region in 2020 compared to 2019. The most recent peak in the 10-year cycle occurred in 2017. Although peaks in the cycle occur on average approximately every 10 years, they vary from 8 to 11 years apart (Figure 3). Recent survey data indicate that ruffed grouse are in the declining phase of the 10-year cycle in Minnesota.
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When Thu Feb 27, 2020 5:30pm – 6:30pm (CST)
Where Tattersall Distilling - 1620 Central Ave NE. Minneapolis, MN 55413
Interested in helping with the Twin Cities Ruffed Grouse Society. We'll be talking about Where, When, What opportunities are to take part. Just show up and chat about bird hunting and banquets
An avid grouse and woodcock hunter himself, Dick has taken youth and new hunters on hunter walking trails over the years and uses the trails as a convenient way to discover new hunting areas.
The DNR partners with other organizations and land managers to maintain hunter walking trails. A $300,000 grant from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to the Minnesota Ruffed Grouse Society will restore approximately 200 trailheads and 80 miles of existing trails, add 20 miles of new trails and update trail maps for land managers and trail users.
The DNR and partners developed the system of hunter walking trails beginning in the 1970s. Timber harvest around the trails is the main tool used to create quality grouse and woodcock habitat. The trails wind their way through wildlife management areas, ruffed grouse management areas, state forests and other types of public land.
Downloadable maps of hunter walking trails and more information can be found on the hunter walking trails page at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/hwt/index.html.
Read the full Duluth News Tribune article for more tips and info.
Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were similar statewide this year to last year.
DNR biologists have monitored ruffed grouse populations for the past 70 years and this year, DNR staff and cooperators from 14 organizations surveyed 131 established routes across the state’s forested region.
Each year on the routes, surveyors count the number of grouse drums they hear. Drumming is the low sound male grouse make as they beat their wings rapidly and in increasing frequency to signal the location of their territory and attract females ready to begin nesting.
Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population. Grouse populations tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle that can vary from 8 to 11 years, and Minnesota’s most recent population peak was in 2017.
2019 survey results
Read the full Herald Review article
A grouse hunter walking a trail on state land near Aurora on Sunday shot a young wolf that had snapped at his yellow Labrador retriever, said Don Bozovsky, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The hunter, who Bozovsky said wished not to be identified, was a young man. The hunter was walking a trail on state land at about 3:25 p.m. when the dog encountered the wolf on the trail, Bozovsky said. Fearing that the wolf would attack the dog, the hunter shot the wolf twice with a 12-gauge shotgun at a distance of about 8 feet, Bozovsky said.
Read the rest of the Duluth News Tribune article