More reasons why early closing of ruffed grouse season wasn’t a good idea

Spring observations are conducted annually on Wisconsin's ruffed and sharp-tailed grouse. (Photo by Jerry Davis)

The recent DNR ruffed grouse drumming survey of 2019 was helpful and informative to anyone concerned with bird populations – hunters, birders, and even those who try to manage their property for wildlife.

The drumming activity increased 48% in Wisconsin’s Northern Forest Region and 35 percent in the Central Forest Region. Overall, the statewide increase came in at 41% increase. Other areas are not significant in the overall information because the population has been so low that it doesn’t provide meaningful hunting populations in most areas. At best those other averages likely confirm there are few or no birds in many areas and the population continues to decrease.

The time, effort, and cost to close the ruffed grouse season early last year proved unnecessary and probably provided little information. If a survey had been designed and then sent to hunters who did hunt, some meaningful information might have been gleaned. What the closing may have done instead was to suggest to non-hunters that hunting can have a significate impact on the population and in particular in January.

If hunting had been allowed, some sampling could have provided some disease comparisons with early and late season take, and maybe other data as well.

There are possible disease and population situations that might necessitate changes in season structure. One of those may have been to collect more, not zero, birds for examination.

The science behind the closing was probably not there. Most hunters don’t hunt during that time and those who did were not in favor of closing as a means of gathering more data, future increases in the population, and the overall impression and perception of hunting this type of bird during this time period.

(Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at or 608-924-1112)

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Wisconsin – Jerry Davis

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