MADISON - Wisconsin's ruffed grouse population appears to be on an upswing for a fourth year in a row, according to data that state wildlife managers collected during the 2009 spring drumming counts.
Photo courtesy of Paul Carson
"The central and northern management regions showed the greatest increase in drumming activity over last year with 14 percent and 6 percent increases, respectively," said Scott Hull, upland wildlife ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. "The southwest region showed a decrease of 24 percent and the southeast region showed a decline with 58 percent fewer drums than in 2008." Population estimates for ruffed grouse are divided into four management regions around the state.
"In total, drumming counts increased by 3 percent over the last year. That is on top of a 7 percent increase recorded between 2007 and 2008" said Hull.
While this increase may not be huge, Hall said, in general it is still a "welcome indication" that the Wisconsin ruffed grouse population is rising in the current population cycle.
For reasons not well understood by biologists, grouse populations cycle up and down over an 8 to 10 year period. The previous high population point was in 1999.
"These are good survey results, and I'm optimistic that we'll have a successful grouse season in 2009," said Hull.
Each spring, biologists, wardens, foresters, members of the Ruffed Grouse Society and other volunteers travel survey routes stopping to listen at predetermined locations for the unmistakable sound of drumming ruffed grouse. Drumming is the sound produced by a male grouse during the spring breeding season. The male will display on a drumming log with the intention of attracting a female by rapidly beating his wings producing a drumming sound.
"Ruffed grouse drumming surveys are helpful in tracking statewide population changes over the long term," said Hull. "However, they are not good predictors of local harvest or hunting opportunities. The most successful hunters usually are those who spend the most time in the field and cover the most ground."
There are two ruffed grouse hunting zones in the state. The hunting dates for Zone A are Sept. 12, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010. The dates for Zone B are Oct. 17 through Dec. 8, 2009. Daily bag limits are 5 birds per day in Zone A and 2 birds per day in Zone B. Possession limits are twice the daily bag limit.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Hull, DNR Upland Wildlife Ecologist, 608-267-7861, Sharon Fandel, DNR Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist, 608-261-8458, or Bob Manwell, DNR Public Affairs Manager - (608) 264-9248