While the perils and challenges faced by ruffed grouse and American woodcock may be familiar to our conservation-minded members, the continental and even global significance of these issues may not be fully recognized.
In a recent study published online by the journal Science, it was noted that wild bird populations have declined by nearly 30% since 1970 in the continental U.S. and Canada. Sadly, we know these declines to have effected ruffed grouse and American woodcock too. Yet the ruffed grouse and woodcock are not alone in their struggles and we are not alone in our concerns for these birds. Others have taken notice, too.
At the Ruffed Grouse Society, we often focus our conversations on forest wildlife and rightfully so. Yet the study shows that there have been bird declines across every biome. From human impact, and in many cases, lack of human impact, to climate change and habitat loss, the declines are widespread and not species specific.
As mentioned in a recent release about ruffed grouse in the state of Indiana, in less than a grouse hunter’s life time, populations have declined over 99% in the state. During that same lifetime, nearly 3 billion adult breeding birds have disappeared from the continental U.S and Canada.
All Is Not Lost
Success stories like that of waterfowl are examples of what can be accomplished when conservation leaders utilize sound science to affect landscape level change and habitat improvement. The ruffed grouse and woodcock need your help now more than ever, as does the entire spectrum of bird life in North America.
We must join together in this conservation movement. Otherwise, we will behold the demise of these upland icons within our own lifetimes.