Showing posts with label WI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WI. Show all posts

Wisconsin ruffed grouse drumming down for 2022

By John Myers

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources this week announced the annual spring drumming survey of ruffed grouse showed below-average counts while the spring waterfowl breeding survey indicates good numbers and excellent habitat conditions.

DNR wildlife biologists reported a 5% decrease statewide in ruffed grouse drumming activity from 2021.

“These results are not surprising. Ruffed grouse typically follow a 10-year population cycle,” said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife surveys specialist. “While we don’t have data for 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, we know that cycles usually peak in years ending in 9, 0 or 1. We’re likely going to see that abundance begin to wane in the coming years as we enter the down phase of the cycle.”

During the spring mating ritual, male ruffed grouse beat their wings slowly and then more rapidly to create a deep, drumming sound. Surveyors listen to this sound to identify and count male ruffed grouse each spring.

You can find more on wildlife surveys on the DNR's wildlife reports webpage at



Wisconsin 2021 Ruffed Grouse Numbers on the Decline After Peak in Population Cycle

Ruffed grouse populations in Wisconsin follow a fairly steady 10-year population cycle.

Through decades of surveys, the Wisconsin DNR has found the population usually peaks in years that end in 9, 0, or 1.

This spring’s drumming survey found a 6% decline in breeding males overall in the state. Drumming is the beating sound males’ wings make during mating season.

The northern half of the state saw a 7% decline. The central region saw no change. The driftless area saw a 33% increase.

Alaina Gerrits is the Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist with the DNR. She says that decline is nothing out of the usual.

“Now we’re just kind of going down that very characteristic downslide and it’s a typical normal thing. I think that 6% decrease isn’t anything we should be really concerned about. It’s something we were anticipating,” said Gerrits.

She said this means the population likely peaked last year or the year before.

The DNR doesn’t know for certain since it wasn’t able to the survey last spring due to the pandemic.

“It’s a little frustrating for sure because we’ve been doing these surveys for decades. To have one year missing is really atypical,” said Gerrits.

While the DNR doesn’t have the drumming surveys from last spring, it does have harvest data from last year’s hunt.

In 2020, there was an increase in harvested grouse.

“That’s kind of a piece of evidence that leads me to believe that we did peak last year,” said Gerrits. “Once we can have harvest information after this season is over in 2021, we’ll kind of be able to use that as a little bit of an index to see where the population is at as well.”

Gerrits said Wisconsin is home to a robust ruffed grouse population. For perspective, roughly 200,000 grouse were harvested last year.

Read the full WXPR article

Wisconsin DNR Asks for Help from Hunters for Final Year Ruffed Grouse Study


The Wisconsin DNR is in its third and final year of study looking at the impact of West Nile Virus on ruffed grouse.

The DNR is looking into how present the virus is in the species and the effect it could have on populations.

So far, results show the virus does not have a devastating impact on the ruffed grouse population in Wisconsin.

“About 20 to 30 percent of the grouse that we’ve sampled have antibodies to West Nile Virus which means that they’re contracted the disease but they’re building up antibodies and flushing it out of their system and actually surviving the disease,” said DNR Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist Alaina Gerrits.

The COVID-19 pandemic is complicating the final year of the study.

Normally DNR staff would get together and assemble sample kits to hand out to hunters. They can’t do that this year because of COVID-19. But Gerrits estimates there are about 500 unused kits out there from previous years.

“We’re just asking hunters that if you have left over kits or if you know someone who does to please send it in. Nothing in the kit expires. We felt that this was our best option instead of delaying the study or canceling it was just to try get as many samples as we could this way,” said Gerrits.

Hunters are asked to collect a small amount of blood, a few feathers, and the heart from their harvested grouse.

It will likely be next winter or spring before the final results of the study are available.

You can learn more about ruffed grouse and the DNR's study on its website.

Read the full wxpr article


WI DNR board moves toward shortening 2019 grouse season

The state Department of Natural Resources board is moving toward shortening Wisconsin's ruffed grouse season to as the population dwindles.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the department to craft an emergency rule that would close the season across the northwestern two-thirds of the state on Jan. 5. The season currently runs from mid-September through Jan. 31 in that portion of the state.
The DNR is concerned that the ruffed grouse population is declining. Drumming activity dropped 34% from 2017 to 2018. Hunters took only 173,347 birds last year, the lowest total in 35 years of hunter surveys.

Wisconsin Ruffed Grouse Drumming 2019 Counts UP 41% Over 2018

Wisconsin statewide ruffed grouse drumming activity increased 41% between 2018 and 2019, based on the roadside survey to monitor breeding grouse activity. Changes in indices to breeding grouse populations varied by region, and the statewide mean number of drums per stop was different (P= <.0001) from 2018 to 2019. Drummer densities on the Sandhill Wildlife Area in Wood County showed a decrease of 13%. 

 Read the full Wi DNR article

WI 2018 Grouse season could prove to be mixed bag

JERRY DAVIS For the State Journal 

Warm, humid weather was not conducive to hunting grouse coverts opening weekend, but those persons who were afield had some success seeing or hearing ruffed grouse and American woodcock. 

The woodcock season opens Saturday, Sept. 22. 

Some hunters did take a bird home, too. Some good news came from the team from Missouri who are trapping birds, 100 each of three years, in trade for grouse habitat improvement in Wisconsin. They reached their goal and were able to stay a bit longer to even out the ratio of males to females. They will return for a second trapping next year. 

“They captured and then released healthy birds very soon after capture, taking them south the same day,” said Mark Witecha, upland bird biologist for the Department of Natural Resources. “It took them a while to get started, in part because there is so much good grouse habitat in Wisconsin.” 

Wisconsin biologists learned from the birds, too, before they left for the “Show Me” state. Birds were weighed and blood samples were taken to test for West Nile Virus. 

During the trapping, just walking in to check traps, the team flushed a fair number of birds, including coveys of 4 to 6 young birds. 

Birds were trapped in five Wisconsin counties, and several locations in each county.

Read the full State Journal article 

Regional West Nile virus monitoring effort for ruffed grouse to begin this fall

Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861
MADISON -- In collaboration with the Minnesota and Michigan Departments of Natural Resources, Ruffed Grouse Society, and Wisconsin Conservation Congress, the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources will begin a multi-year monitoring program this fall looking at West Nile virus (WNV) in ruffed grouse. 
Ruffed grouse- Photo credit: DNR
Ruffed grouse.Photo credit: DNR
The DNR is asking ruffed grouse hunters for their participation in this monitoring effort. Similar to past disease monitoring efforts, the department is asking that hunters submit samples from their harvested ruffed grouse using self-sampling kits. This effort will focus on the core ruffed grouse range in the central and northern forests.
The DNR has assembled 400 self-sampling kits for ruffed grouse hunters to use in 2018. The WNV sampling kits contain detailed instructions and all the supplies needed to collect and ship one sample. Hunters will be asked to collect a small amount of blood along with the heart from their harvested grouse. 
If you hunt the central and northern forests and would like to participate in the West Nile virus monitoring effort, sampling kits can be requested through your county wildlife biologist and will be available in early September. The number of kits provided per individual may be limited to ensure samples come from a large geographic area. 
Hunters will be provided test results via email. Be aware that testing of samples will not begin until after the grouse season has closed and final results will not be available for several months after the close of the season. WNV is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito and there is no evidence that WNV can be spread by handling dead birds or by consuming properly cooked game. It is one of several bird diseases afflicting native bird species.
Sick and Dead Birds ..  Read the full WI DNR article

2017 Ruffed grouse numbers lagging for hunters in Wisconsin, Minnesota

, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
After one month of the 2017 season, hunters have been flushing fewer ruffed grouse in the bird's Upper Midwest strongholds of Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The relative lack of grouse comes after spring drumming counts were reportedly up double digits in both states.
In addition, grouse populations were expected to be higher this year as the species was rising from its 10-year cyclical low.
The dearth of birds has been noted in field reports from hunters as well as results from the annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt in Grand Rapids, Minn., organized by the Ruffed Grouse Society.
"Something is going on," said Jim Hayett of Hartland, an avid grouse hunter and former RGS national board member who has spent 10 days in October hunting on public and private land near Park Falls, Wis., and Grand Rapids, Minn. "The numbers were supposed to be up and it's looking like the complete opposite."
At the national hunt held Thursday and Friday in Grand Rapids, Minn., hunters harvested an average of 0.5 grouse per day, lowest in the 36-year history of the event.
After one month of the 2017 season, hunters have been flushing fewer ruffed grouse in the bird's Upper Midwest strongholds of Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The relative lack of grouse comes after spring drumming counts were reportedly up double digits in both states.
In addition, grouse populations were expected to be higher this year as the species was rising from its 10-year cyclical low.
The dearth of birds has been noted in field reports from hunters as well as results from the annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt in Grand Rapids, Minn., organized by the Ruffed Grouse Society.
"Something is going on," said Jim Hayett of Hartland, an avid grouse hunter and former RGS national board member who has spent 10 days in October hunting on public and private land near Park Falls, Wis., and Grand Rapids, Minn. "The numbers were supposed to be up and it's looking like the complete opposite."
At the national hunt held Thursday and Friday in Grand Rapids, Minn., hunters harvested an average of 0.5 grouse per day, lowest in the 36-year history of the event.
Read the full article

Wisconsin New-hunter mentor program offered in Three Lakes - RGS Led

Anyone interested in learning to bird hunt can do so free of charge next month. The local chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) is offering a new-hunter mentor program Aug. 19-20 in Three Lakes. RGS a national organization of grouse and woodcock hunters which supports scientific conservation and management efforts to ensure the future of the species. “Our new-hunter mentor program offers those interested in bird hunting in the Northwoods a chance to learn this exciting activity directly from experienced, certified mentors,” said Dan Anderson, chairman of the local Chain O’ Lakes RGS chapter.  “The national organization has a successful program that we use as an outline, and locals with many years of experience hunting our area, including use of trained hunting dogs, teach the course.” The course is open to participants over age 12 and will consist of two half-days Aug. 19-20.  Experience gained in this program can be applied to hunting most other species. Topics will include:
  • Gun safety, marksmanship and shooting
  • Dog handling
  • Field and mapping skills
  • Habitat awareness
The finale will be a hunt this fall with an experienced, certified grouse hunting mentor. See the full Star Journal article for registration and more details

Hiring - PhD Position in Ruffed Grouse Population Dynamics - Madison Wi

PhD Position in Ruffed Grouse Population Dynamics

Forest & Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI
United States
Last Date to Apply:
02 Jan 2015 
Open until filled
Salary: $21,224
Start Date: 09/01/2015

Description: PhD Position available in Ruffed Grouse Population Dynamics

We are seeking an outstanding student to pursue the study of overwinter mortality of ruffed grouse in central Wisconsin. The student’s dissertation will involve radiotelemetry, collecting data on snow and forest conditions, and population modeling. Additional field or modeling components could be added depending on shared interests and funding opportunities. The student will be advised by Benjamin Zuckerberg ( in collaboration with Jon Pauli ( and Zach Peery (http://labs.russell....ery/zach-peery/). The PhD assistantship is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2015. Note: this position is contingent on sufficient funding which will be determined in December.

Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and will continue until a suitable candidate is chosen. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. We promote excellence through diversity and encourage all qualified individuals to apply. The position is open to both US citizen and international candidates. Current annual stipend levels are $21,224 per year before taxes, plus tuition remission and health care benefits. A start date of September 2015 is envisioned.

Interested applicants are asked to e-mail the documents listed below to our Student Services Coordinator Sara Rodock ( (in ONE PDF file please).
1) Our departmental graduate application cover sheet (
2) Letter outlining research interests, academic and professional backgrounds
3) Resume or CV
4) Copies of transcripts (unofficial copies acceptable at this point)
5) GRE scores
6) Names and contact addresses of three references

Questions should be directed to Dr. Zuckerberg (

Qualifications: Applicants must have A MS degree in wildlife, ecology, evolution or other related discipline. Applicants with a BS degree will only be considered if substantial relevant experience can be shown. A solid working knowledge of radiotelemetry, GIS, mark-recapture analysis, population ecology, and demographic modeling are required. Although not a requirement, the preferred candidate will have experience conducting field studies in winter conditions. Excellent English writing and verbal communication skills are essential.

Contact: Sara Rodock,

The Traveling Wingshooter 2014: Ruffed Grouse Forecast MN, MI, ME, WI, NY, PA

by Dave Smith

Ruffed grouse hunters in the Great Lakes region have learned over generations to pursue ruffs when they peak in their 9-to-11 year cycle, which last occurred between 2009 and 2011. Each year since has been marked by a predictable decline, but the results of this springˊs drumming surveys show an increase, statewide, in Minnesota and Michigan, and a slight increase in northern Wisconsin.

The M's

"This may indicate the beginning of an upswing in the grouse cycle, which has been in the declining phase since 2009," said Charlotte Roy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Roy reported a 34 percent increase in the annual drumming surveys statewide, driven by the birdˊs prime range in northern Minnesota.

Michiganˊs drumming surveys revealed an increase from 10 to 12 drums per route, according to Al Stewart, Upland Game Bird Specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Further, Stewart says that the heavy snow this winter and ideal moisture conditions this spring were perfect for over-winter survival and reproduction, thus he is cautiously optimistic for a slight increase in grouse numbers this fall.

Grouse populations in Maine have declined from the recent peak but are still near the long-term average, and this yearˊs hatch makes for a promising hunting season. "We had favorable weather for grouse nesting and hatch," said Kelsey Sullivan, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. "Drumming surveys completed this spring revealed that areas with quality grouse habitat – such as much of northern Maine above Old Town – showed good activity, so I expect production will be relatively good."

Where To Hunt Grouse and Woodcock - Wisconsin Interactive Hunting Tool - Mapping

The Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool (FFLIGHT) was designed to help upland gamebird hunters locate cover suitable for ruffed grouse and woodcock, managed dove fields and properties stocked with game farm pheasants.

In recognition of the passion with which these hunters pursue upland birds and to help make their time in Wisconsin's outdoors more productive and enjoyable, the Wisconsin DNR has developed the Fields and Forest Lands Inventory Gamebird Hunting Tool.

Launch desktop
Launch mobile
This tool allows hunters to quickly locate:
  • cover suitable for ruffed grouse and woodcock
  • fields managed for mourning doves
  • properties stocked with pheasants by the DNR
For instruction on how to use this great new tool please view this brief tutorial that highlights and shows how to use all these features.

Launch tutorial

Mapping application features

Areas suitable for ruffed grouse and woodcock - Young aspen and lowland alder stands provide excellent cover for ruffed grouse and woodcock, and can easily be located on the map. For additional information on ruffed grouse hunting please visit ruffed grouse hunting.

For additional recreational activities on Public Lands please visit Public Access Lands Map.

See the original WI DNR Website

WI 2014 Ruffed grouse survey indicates minor population decline

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 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

Ruffed Grouse hunt brings endings and beginnings

By Jeery Davis

DRUMMOND — Four decades ago I began going north every autumn to hunt ruffed grouse and enjoy what autumns have to offer.

Many dogs, relatives, friends and seasons later cycles continue. No, not the cycle of the bird that brings us here, but the cycle of one end overlapping with a beginning. Sometimes a cycle is a son becoming a hunter and a father putting away his shotgun. This year was a dog cycle.

Tim, my older son from Mount Horeb, lost one of his golden retrievers to a major illness this summer.
Like Chester and Kyla before, Maddy’s ashes were placed under a special red maple, one that seems to know that at least some hunters come north as early as mid-September, well before almost any autumn colors have arrived. But this tree is one of the first, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, to turn red. Regardless of when hunters come with shotguns, dogs and high hopes of hunting successes, it seems this tree has some red leaves to show off to those visitors.

This tree has become known to us, then, as The Red Maple of Forest Road 231.

This Oct. 6 was that special day. A few red leaves still swayed in the breeze; most had fallen. Some fell as Tim stepped up a steep bank with a can painted on all sides with paw prints. Inside the can a felt bag held a plastic bag of ashes.

WI New habitat area ideal for ruffed grouse, woodcock hunting

On October 21, 2013, the Ruffed Grouse Society dedicated a new management area in honor of David V. Uihlein, Sr. on 2,045 acres of the Forest County Forest in northeast Wisconsin. The David V. Uihlein, Sr. Ruffed Grouse Management Area will use timber management, especially aspen harvests, to promote habitat for ruffed grouse and American woodcock. In addition, the Area is managed for multiple uses including a hunter walking area and a snowmobile trail through the northern portion of the property.

David V. Uihlein, Sr. was an ardent naturalist and outdoorsman who passed away on January 29, 2010 at the age of 89. He was a founder and president of the Ruffed Grouse Society Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter (Milwaukee area), which was later named in his honor. He was an extremely strong supporter of RGS, serving on its national board as a director from October 1981 until October 1996 and its President from December 1986 until December 1988, and through his Foundation, his support continues. He had a strong passion for habitat in northeast Wisconsin where he and his family spent time enjoying the outdoors in Forest County.

This is the second cooperative ruffed grouse management area RGS has developed with the outstanding cooperation of the Forest County Forestry and Parks Department who make these projects possible. The other is the 800-acre Otter Creek Ruffed Grouse Management Area located between Crandon and Laona. Two other cooperative areas in Forest County are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the McDonald Creek east of Eagle River and Bushaefer Road northeast of Wabeno.

The David V. Uihlein Sr. Ruffed Grouse Management Area is one of over 700 projects in 28 states in which RGS is involved. This new management area is one of over 100 cooperative management areas RGS has developed on public lands in Wisconsin since 1986. The RGS Management Area Program began in 1985 and to-date, the Society has provided close to $1 million dollars to support habitat management efforts on over 145,000 acres of public land projects in Wisconsin and over $3.5 million to enhance over 500,000 public acres nationwide. To accomplish this, RGS has used funds raised primarily by dedicated volunteers of RGS chapters across the country.

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America’s foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

Information on RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at:

Media contact:
For photographs or questions about this release, contact:
Matt Soberg

Ruffed Grouse Hunter Kills Attacking Black Bear With Birdshot

By Jackson Schmidtke

Barron County (WQOW) - Sometimes when you go hunting you come across animals you're not looking to hunt. A Barron County grouse hunter's encounter on Saturday put him and his dog in the hospital.

"It was a spot where he would have never seen this bear laying on the ground," said DNR Conservation Warden Phillip Dorn.

Phil Anderson was hunting ruffed grouse at the Loon Lake Wildlife Area when he heard branches cracking. He thought it was a deer but it turned out to be a black bear.

"I heard my dog squealing in distress and I kind of figured out what was happening," Anderson said.

Anderson's dog had encountered a mother bear and her cubs in Barron county.

"I yelled for the dog and immediately the adult bear came from that direction and charged at me and knocked me on my back," said Anderson "She batted me a few times and shook me and then she went back to my dog."

After regaining his feet, Anderson yelled at the bear hoping to scare it. The bear left the dog and charged Anderson again. This time Anderson was prepared and was able to shoot the bear point blank in the face with birdshot, a lightweight ammo that typically would not down a bear.

"Birdshot doesn't really penetrate that well from distances," said Dorn "but this was very close range. Probably within three feet."
The 275-pound bear died instantly.