[CT Birds] state of R Grouse here in CT

Jack Swatt jswattbirds at snet.net
Sat Mar 2 20:05:03 EST 2013

I had a chance to do some homework today before contacting the DEEP (kids have it soooo easy today with the internet, compared to when I was in school). 
One reassuring thing I found was that the DEEP is currently conducting a research project on the Ruffed Grouse population looking into dispersal rates, habitat use and survival rates in CT.
    link to Connecticut Wildlife article :  http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/wildlife/pdf_files/outreach/connecticut_wildlife_magazine/cwnd12.pdf#page=3
They are also looking for sighting reports to help study the areas grouse are currently surviving in, so please forward any grouse sightings to
 Michael.gregonis at ct.gov or call the Franklin wildlife office (I supposed they would want recent past sightings as well) .  
Since he was the contact for the project I sent him an email about my/our concerns and asked at what point they would consider a population too low to continue hunting.  I'll try to post any information that I get back.
Another interesting thing in the article above was a graph that gave Christmas count data on Ruffed Grouse. Apparently their numbers today are the same as they were back in the early 1950s.  They had a baby boom of their own with the reversion of farmland into young forest.  Makes me wonder if the reason grouse were more common when I was growing up in the 60's was due to artificial inflation because of so much young forest across the state.  Now that we have more mature forest in CT, is this the "normal" grouse population that can be managed by periodic regeneration of young forest?  Hopefully, this project is looking into those answers.
     I also had a chance to explore some grouse hunting websites.  Some of the blogs talked about "unhuntable populations" and "haven't seen one in 30 years" (mostly from SE CT).  Some posts talked about finding Ruffed Grouse "Honey spots', surprisingly in NE CT(Vernon, Willington, Stafford) (and e-bird sightings have shown they are still encountered there as well).  There was also an optimistic post citing that the widespread effects of the Oct 2011 snowstorm and the current habitat restoration for NE cottontail will bring back populations.
     In my previous post I mentioned that there were more areas that were going to undergo young forest restoration for the NE cottontail.  I found a DEEP site that listed where they are going to occur:
        link : http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=514596&deepNav_GID=1655
Since some of these areas are in SE CT where grouse are scarce (or gone), perhaps they could reintroduce them into the restored areas and bring back grouse populations in those areas.  I'm sure the hunters would be willing to back that proposal, and maybe even help fund it in these budget thinning years.
Jack Swatt

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