August 9, 2018
For Immediate Release
Coraopolis, Pa. – The Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society (RGS/AWS) provided testimony regarding the proposed early closure of the Wisconsin ruffed grouse hunting season at the August 8, 2018 Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) meeting in Green Bay through David Moore, RGS/AWS Board Chairman.
Based on the information available at the time of the meeting, the RGS/AWS concluded that the shortening of the 2018 ruffed grouse hunting season would not alleviate a population decline. If West Nile Virus or some other factor is affecting grouse beyond historic norms, a comprehensive approach based on a sound management plan would be necessary. Moore stated:
My name is David Moore, Chairman of the Ruffed Grouse Society’s Board of Directors. As our name implies, the ruffed grouse is a bird that’s near and dear to us. And not just to our 17,000 members, but to some three hundred thousand hunters who pursue grouse across the Lakes States. In fact, the ruffed grouse has become one of the great symbols of Wisconsin’s wildlife. And so it’s frightening to think about threats to this great bird and the hunting lifestyle we love. That’s what brings us together today.
We commend the Conservation Congress, Natural Resources Board, and DNR for bringing attention to declines in key ruffed grouse surveys. Although the slumps we saw in 2017 may be within historic norms, they got our attention, especially considering unknowns surrounding West Nile Virus. This is a serious issue and should be considered among top priorities for Wisconsin wildlife management.
Although West Nile Virus is on our minds, there’s a lot we don’t know. The disease has not been confirmed in a Wisconsin ruffed grouse. That’s an important first step; we’ve got to know if it’s here and how prevalent. We support testing ruffed grouse in 2018, and beyond, to determine if and how the disease might affect the population. In fact, our staff has already coordinated with DNR to get test kits in the hands of grouse hunters this season.
If West Nile Virus is found, it will take a comprehensive effort to come up with management steps. A ruffed grouse management plan is the basic framework for a sound and understandable management program. I want to stress “understandable.” Grouse hunters will be supportive if we are informed and understand why regulations are being proposed. Building a ruffed grouse management plan will be a great start. Our biologists are ready to help in any way with writing the plan. It should be a top priority with draft completion by Spring 2019.
It is a core tenet of the Ruffed Grouse Society to support science-based management. Based on available information, we do not believe there is a sound basis for shortening the 2018 ruffed grouse hunting season. If West Nile Virus or some other factor is affecting grouse beyond historic norms, a comprehensive approach – based on a management plan – will be necessary.
The Ruffed Grouse Society is here to help in any way possible. We look forward to continued engagement with you toward conserving this amazing game bird.
The RGS/AWS stands fully committed to cooperating in this process, developing the statewide ruffed grouse management plan and engaging members to participate in West Nile Virus surveillance. The RGS/AWS will continue to work with our members, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Board to pursue a constructive path forward to promote healthy forests, abundant wildlife, and sporting traditions in the face of these concerning current conditions.
The RGS/AWS provided information and opportunity to members and the public to provide input prior to or in person at this meeting. An RGS/AWS website (www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/WI-Grouse-Season-Proposal) provides updates and further information for those who wish to learn and participate as the process unfolds.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society are North America’s foremost conservation organizations dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS and AWS work with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.
More about the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society, mission and programs can be found at www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
RGS & AWS Editor & Director of Communications