Kentucky puts forth resources to help ruffed grouse

(Jerry Davis photo)

A newly published plan developed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources offers a long-range strategy to help ruffed grouse populations rebound in eastern Kentucky after years of decline.

The Ruffed Grouse and Young Forest Strategic Plan looks 10 years out and its success hinges on an array of partners working together to create the young forest habitat on which grouse and other woodland species can thrive.

“This will be an ambitious effort, aimed at turning the tide for the ruffed grouse,” Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Gregory K. Johnson said. “There is no doubt this is a challenge that can become a real opportunity. We are accepting this challenge with every intent to be successful. We will need your help – our sportsmen, our partners, our colleges and universities, and our forest products industry. Only together can we be successful restoring this magnificent game bird to our landscape.”

The strategic plan, more than two years in the making, incorporates input received from the public and other stakeholders. It is available on Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s web site at fw.ky.gov.

Grouse hunters, the few of them that are left, know that this population of game bird has suffered dramatically. I still get a few calls every year from disappointed Ohio grouse hunters who wonder where the birds have all gone.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has an annual grouse count survey that asks folks to report sightings in order to get somewhat of a handle on population numbers. It is combined with the turkey count, and I’m betting the turkey count is loads higher than the grouse count.

This effort by Kentucky is commendable, and I hope it works. It worked for the state’s elk population, which was a little different in that it was a reintroduction of a species via transplants from elsewhere. But, if the grouse project works, count on some happy grouse hunters in eastern Kentucky.

I was born in eastern Kentucky near a town in the Daniel Boone National Forest. It would be pleasing to no end to me to see this program work. It’s just a short drive from Ohio’s southern border.

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