At their regular meeting on July 17, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council unanimously voted to close the ruffed grouse hunting season statewide.
The Ruffed Grouse Society was disheartened to hear of the New Jersey ruffed grouse hunting season closure announced last week. The NJ Department of Fish & Wildlife’s population monitoring clearly justifies the move. Ruffed grouse are a bellwether of forest health. Their decline mirrors that of other forest wildlife in New Jersey including golden-winged warbler, blue-winged warbler, cerulean warbler, wood thrush, and American woodcock.
We are mobilizing RGS’ habitat network with a focus on the key issue leading to declines in these forest wildlife – loss of forest age diversity, especially young forests.
The Ruffed Grouse Society will be working closely with the New Jersey Department of Fish & Wildlife to develop an action plan for ruffed grouse recovery. Such a plan already exists for northern bobwhite and there may be overlap in habitat management already underway.
Amidst our concern over grouse population levels that are so low that they cannot sustain a hunting season, we are hopeful that this announcement will bring greater attention to one of the major habitat threats facing wildlife in New Jersey and elsewhere in the mid-Atlantic and Appalachian Regions.
Official Release | NJ Fish and Game Council
July 18, 2019
At their regular meeting on July 17, the Fish and Game Council unanimously voted to close the ruffed grouse hunting season statewide. Recognizing that grouse populations in the state were declining, the season length and daily bag limit were reduced, and the state was divided into two zones, in 2005, with the southern zone having a shorter season than the northern zone. The closure takes effect immediately.
Ruffed grouse populations in the state have declined due to lack of suitable habitat (young-aged forests) which they require. Such forests now comprise less than 1% of the state’s forests. Anecdotal reports of hunters seeing grouse have dwindled as forests continue to age due to lack of forest management. Although hunting is not the cause of the decline, and in fact, the number of grouse hunters has a parallel declining trend, the Division and the Fish and Game Council feels that current grouse population levels cannot support a hunt at this time.