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June 23, 2015

MADISON -- Preliminary spring survey results show that Wisconsin's sharp-tailed grouse made it through the winter in favorable condition, and 100 harvest permits are available for Management Unit 8 in northern Wisconsin.

Those interested in hunting sharp-tailed grouse in Unit 8 must submit an application and enter a drawing for a hunting permit. Permit level decisions are made on an annual basis and incorporate sharp-tailed grouse survey data, past permit levels and success rates. Hunters are encouraged to carefully review the zone map [PDF] and apply only for the open unit.

Applications are available at DNR Service Centers or authorized license agents and through the Online Licensing Center.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Sharp-tailed Grouse Advisory Committee, made up of department staff and key stakeholders, is hopeful that the sharp-tailed grouse population will continue to respond positively to habitat management efforts in Wisconsin.

"Sharptails are a fascinating wildlife species," said DNR Wildlife Biologist Bob Hanson. "They are adapted to large, open landscapes with a brushy component, and while they were formerly found across much of Wisconsin, reforestation and conversion of barrens habitat has reduced their range to a few counties in the northwest part of the state."

In northwestern Wisconsin, sharp-tailed grouse are now found primarily in association with large blocks of barrens habitat on public lands. Wisconsin's Sharp-tailed Grouse Management Plan [PDF] provides a framework to combine habitat development for barrens-dependent wildlife species with working forests. The plan's goal is to expand suitable habitat for sharptails and reconnect isolated populations.

"Biologists, foresters and land managers are working collaboratively to manage and reconnect forests to provide large scale critical habitat while growing local economies," noted Hanson. "The future for sharp-tailed grouse in Wisconsin is bright - quality habitat can be produced through slight modifications to timber harvest schedules and many Wisconsin forests can support both a strong timber products industry and a healthy and diverse wildlife community."

The barrens habitat in northwestern Wisconsin is recognized internationally as a key conservation opportunity area. Sharp-tails are a popular game bird species, and well-known for their dramatic breeding displays. The birds attract many visitors to the northwestern part of the state each year.

"Sharp-tailed grouse are a magnificent bird, and it's wonderful to see recent management efforts paying off," said Dave Evenson, President of the Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society. "Factors have aligned in favor of sharp-tailed grouse habitat, and logging activities and recent natural disturbances are creating open habitats sharp-tails need in the Lake Superior area. I'd encourage hunters and birdwatchers alike to experience this unique landscape."

"We would like to thank those who remain passionate about Wisconsin's strong and historic tradition of sharp-tailed grouse hunting, and wish all hunters who successfully draw a permit the best of luck in the field, said DNR upland wildlife ecologist Scott Walter."

For more information, search the DNR website,, for keywords "sharp-tailed grouse."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861; Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 23, 2015

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