[CT Birds] The State of Ruffed Grouse

Carrier Graphics carriergraphics at sbcglobal.net
Mon Jun 22 16:39:29 EDT 2009


The State of Ruffed Grouse in our State

First, I want to apologize to Brian for criticizing him for doing studies on Bobwhite for the State. While I still believe the Ruffed Grouse is in much more need of study and help, his study of the Bobwhite is also commended and well needed.

In the case of the Ruffed Grouse however, I as a bird watcher, conservationist and naturalist still have my concerns . I often see and read much on the concerns of the hunter, but I also do not see equal support in our State for the more numerous bird watchers, and from this I would like to see this group represented more fairly within and by our State.

Many bird watchers in Connecticut would like to see a Ruffed Grouse, which our State lists, as a “Special concern species.”  The days of including the Grouse on many bird watchers “lists” has continually declined, which is also true in many other States. The days of knowing areas where this bird can be found commonly I believe are gone, and the areas where they do still exist are becoming fewer and less productive as well. So when I saw that the Ruffed Grouse is still an accepted species to be hunted in our State, I wanted to know why.

 I recently had a conversation with the State DEP wildlife Biologist who represents the Ruffed Grouse, and asked him of my many concerns. Here is what we discussed.

We both agreed on many of the Rough Grouse's concerns, and the State is actively working on many of them. Since the 1900’s, active farmland in our State continually dwindled, creating many early successional forests of which the Grouse require as a habitat. As these new young forests grew towards old growth forests, the habitat for Grouse also dwindled, and that’s what we are now experiencing in our State; less available habitat for the Grouse equals less Grouse.

My last concern for the Grouse in our State then centered on the question “ Why is it still an acceptable hunted species?” The answers where as follows. Many studies show, the hunting or harvesting of Grouse does not influence their overall population, even when they are at a low cycle of numbers. Thus; hunting has no impact on Grouse population. I was also told there are local areas of the State that have “abundant numbers of Grouse”, to this I disagreed. I was told a 2009 spring State study found “Abundant numbers” of Grouse in  the Barkhamsted / Hartland areas, of which I also disagreed with. I bird there often, and through the 30 plus years of doing so I have found Grouse dwindling in occurrence every year.

Does anyone who birds our State know of any areas that have Grouse in abundance, or even a commonly found species?

Another point for keeping the Grouse on the hunting list was:
State permitted hunting land in our State is much less than private, where permission is needed to hunt Grouse.

With the belief that all State residents should have equal rights of access to our lands and their wildlife, the hunting of Grouse, even for the legal month it is allowed, is not beneficial to the many bird watchers and naturalists who only want to see one of these special concern species in our State, and not to harvest it, by taking it out of the gene and reproductive pool. Taking the Ruffed Grouse off the accepted hunting list makes sence to me, and it will please many who are wishing only to see this bird in our State. Bird watchers far outnumber bird hunters in Connecticut, so wouldn’t it be a better choice for the State to curtail hunting of Grouse in favor of allowing as many as possible to survive and be seen by our numerous and still growing bird watching population?

Paul Carrier - Harwinton 


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