Update August 2016: Grouse 2016 Wisconsin Outlook; Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey
Wisconsin Ruffed Grouse wintered well. Ruffed grouse are designed for survival in deep fluffy snow which northern Wisconsin had a lot of during 2013/2014 severe winter. The 2014 Drumming Survey is complete and indicates only a 1% decline in spring drumming activity statewide.
Excerpts from 2014 Wisconsin Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey
Wisconsin’s ruffed grouse population indices decreased between 2013 and 2014 (Table 1). This is the third decrease in the ruffed grouse indices since 2011. Survey indices show a decrease in drumming grouse in two of the four regions of the state (Fig. 1-6). Statewide, overall changes in results were not significant (P= 0.93) between 2013 and 2014. Transects completed in both 2013 and 2014 were compared to detect population changes. Transects were considered to have changed from last year if the change was greater than two drums per transect. The number of transects with decreased drumming outnumbered by 26 to 23 those that showed increases, with 65 transects unchanged.
Breeding grouse and grouse brood production were down during the spring and summer of 2013. This probably set the stage for a decline in breeding grouse numbers in 2014. Wisconsin’s primary grouse range, the Central and Northern Forest regions, showed mixed results. The Central Forest had a decrease in breeding grouse of 23.5% this spring, while the Northern Forest had a small increase of 3.1%. Wisconsin is well past the peak in the grouse cycle and appears to have settled into the bottom of the cycle; it is likely that declines in breeding grouse numbers will continue for a few more years until we start to see numbers go up till the next grouse high.
Despite a late arriving spring with much of the north with snow cover for the month of April, survey conditions for 2014 were similar to those in 2013. Surveyors rated the overall survey conditions as “excellent” on 56% of transects runs, while 58% rated the overall conditions as “excellent” in 2013. Surveyors rated the conditions as “Fair”, the lowest available weather condition rating, 6% of the time in 2013 and 7% in 2014. Survey conditions do influence drumming activity and may cause grouse numbers to be over or under estimated.
Table 1. Ruffed Grouse drumming results 2013-2014, drums per stop (routes run), %
change, and some routes with a change of greater than two drums per route from 2013 levels.
|Region||Drums/Stop 2013(routes run)||Drums/Stop 2014(routes run)||%Change||# of Decreasing Routes||# of Increasing Routes||# of Routes with No Change|
|Central||0.85 (26)||0.65 (27)||-24%||8||3||15|
|Northern||1.70 (41)||1.76 (43)||3%||15||18||8|
|Southeast||0.01 (30)||0.02 (30)||100%||0||0||30|
|Southwest||0.21 (17)||0.19 (17)||-10%||3||2||12|
|Statewide||0.84 (114)||0.83 (117)||-1%||26||23||65|