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Thread: Where have all the grouse gone?

  1. #21
    Boolit Master
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    we have blue /spruce grouse here... the wolves will take them, but dont focus on them, they want deer.. bears dont mess with them... but the different weasels species will take them.. they are fairly common but not thick... we dont have foxes, coyotes, raccoons and such... a few crows and ravens, but cant shoot them as they are sacred to the native groups in the area. they keep to the towns for the most part..
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  2. #22
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    We've noticed the grouse population is down here in Montana the past few years. Feral cats get them around my cabin, but up at higher elevation the turkeys don't overlap territory, they are all down low. Lions take a lot of deer, but doubt they mess with the grouse. It's been so many years since I've trapped I don't know what the small predator population is here now. I suspect ravens to be a big factor in the decline. We've got a lot of those.
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  3. #23
    Boolit Master



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    In NH the coyotes and turkeys seem to be the cause of our depleted grouse. Grouse nest on the ground and the flocks of foraging turkeys eat the eggs and young out of the nest while the coyotes get the adults.

    F&G don't admit it as the turkeys are their pride and joy restoration and new money maker with the tags they sell.

  4. #24
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    Trapping & snaring isn't too popular with pelt prices at the bottom. Cats of all kinds (even house cats) are widely overlooked. Here in Va I've seen a large increase over the years. There is a lot of egg suckers out there. God showed us to protect our livestock from pests why wouldn't it also apply to our game animals? So go get'em boys, set the traps, hang the snares, & let the LEAD FLY!!! You Are The Predator.

  5. #25
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    Numbers are down here in Central NYS and West Nile Virus is definitely a factor although the numbers are cyclic. Back in 2013 during my dad’s Maine moose hunt they were thick as flies.

  6. #26
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    I never saw what the big deal was with pheasants. I never could get excited about a non-native bird, especially one from China. And the regulations are so uptight trying to force you into being an English style gentleman hunting over dogs. That's not me. If I had my way, I'd be hunting them at sunrise, and getting them when they come out to feed. Once they are in the cattails, they are near impossible to get as a single hunter.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geezer in NH View Post
    In NH the coyotes and turkeys seem to be the cause of our depleted grouse. Grouse nest on the ground and the flocks of foraging turkeys eat the eggs and young out of the nest while the coyotes get the adults.

    F&G don't admit it as the turkeys are their pride and joy restoration and new money maker with the tags they sell.
    That has been my basic assumption for quite some time now
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  8. #28
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    And the DNR has been crying that our turkey kill and tag sales have been way down the last couple years as well.

  9. #29
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    Here on Vancouver Island (BC, Canada) our grouse populations have plummeted too. I think there are several reasons to blame for it. The provincial government forced the logging companies to stop the practice of clear-cutting and slash burning that they did for years. It ensured good habitat for birds and deer with large areas of new growth of feed with security nearby in the areas that were left forested. Predators are likely a factor too, since we have a large population of wolves and birds of prey on the island and they have very little to fear since nobody makes any effort to control their numbers anymore. Another issue is that newly forested clear-cut areas were being fertilized by air drop of small concentrate pellets designed to break down after exposure to rain. There have been instances of dead grouse (and other birds) having ingested the pellets and then dying from poisoning. It is a sad state of affairs these days since in the "old days" (30 to 40 years ago) our area was teeming with Ruffed Grouse and Blue Grouse and it was not at all difficult to shoot your limit within a short hunting day if you had a decent bird dog. I sure miss those glory days of good hunting ...

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  10. #30
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    I've listened to several shows on the subject of predators vs declining game animals and also improving habitat for game species & song birds. For the most part they say predator vs prey balance out. They say the biggest factor in declining game is habitat. Those woods you roamed 30yrs ago weren't as thick which allowed the underbrush to grow that held the rabbits, grouse & quail and provide browse for deer as well. The farms field you used to walk is now a young forest and the crops are gone from many areas reducing pheasant habitat. Logging & clear cutting are few & far between as well as forest fires. Forest fires here in are pretty much non-excitant & the fire watch towers have been abandoned for 60 or more years. Burns provide good habitat for wildlife as it clears dense forests, provides nutrients to the soil and renews the undergrowth. Power lines here get trimmed every few years which provide some good undergrowth. Many farms were turned into neighborhoods or strip malls.

    Quail are "edge" birds, using field and border edges for feeding, nesting and cover. Quail live out their lives within a home range of about 40 acres, requiring all habitat components (nesting cover, brood habitat, covey headquarters, and food plots) to be in close proximity.

    Ruffed grouse feed mainly on ground vegetation though they do eat a few insects. Ruffed Grouse are most commonly found in deciduous woodlands (mixed and poplar forests) with dense undergrowth.

    https://projectupland.com/bird-hunti...use-habitat-2/

    General Ruffed Grouse Habitat

    Since ruffed grouse can and do survive across Canada, the northern half of our country, and even down into Georgia along the Appalachian Mountains, the habitats vary greatly. But while the exact plant species are different, the same basic concept applies: thick cover. If you can find densely growing trees and young forest habitats, there’s a good chance you’ll find grouse there.

    The age of a forest may be just as important (if not more important) than the exact species present. Forests cut within the last 20 years or so seem to offer the right mix of species and density of cover. Dense thickets and forests are used by hens to rear their chicks—the really thick cover helps hide them from aerial and ground predators until they can fly better to evade them. Adults tend to spend more time in mature forests, foraging in the understory. But they still seek thick cover for security and food, too. Additionally, small openings and trail networks can benefit grouse because they usually offer green plants (e.g., clover, strawberry, etc.) and plentiful insects for younger birds.




    https://www.pheasantsforever.org/Blo...tat-Pract.aspx

    High energy, grain-based food plots are an essential management practice for game birds and other wildlife on private lands. Regardless of winter severity, it always makes good sense to provide additional food and cover for crisis situations, to use food plots to increase habitat diversity, and to create habitat for hunting and wildlife viewing. Where primary winter cover is limited, planting grain-based mixes (like sorghum blends) will provide structural cover in addition to food. Creating larger plots adjacent to your primary wintering areas increases the character of that shelter for your birds. That helps you achieve your primary objective—to bring your hens through the winter in peak condition for spring breeding, as improved body weight helps maximize chick production.

    BROWSE MIXES

    "The Bird and Buck Line of green browse mixes from Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever provide forage that will help attract big game to your land. In some cases, these mixes can also provide high quality brood habitat for upland birds. These mixes are a magnet for wildlife; they attract whitetails and other species to your property and hold them there. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever browse mixes are comprised of specially developed protein and energy rich forages that deer find irresistible. In addition, several Bird and Buck forage mixes create a leafy, insect rich structure that is important for game bird chicks."
    This isn't here as an ad but to demonstrate that habitat managers see the importance of good food plots & good food plots improve habitat for several game species.

    WHY DO I NEED FOOD PLOTS ON MY LAND?

    High quality grain food plots play a critical role in the relationship between food, cover, movement, and winter bird mortality. The logic is simple, locating well planned food and cover plots adjacent to heavy roosting cover provides a dependable source of high-energy food. Having food right next door to winter cover helps establish safe foraging patterns and minimizes movements. The result is reduced losses to predation and extreme weather.



    Turkeys, bobcat, black bear & coyotes are on a rise here.

    Wild turkeys prefer hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forests with scattered openings such as pastures, fields, orchards and seasonal marshes. They seemingly can adapt to virtually any dense native plant community as long as coverage and openings are widely available.

    Bobcats are known to prefer rocky hillsides that are well-vegetated, they are found in numerous different habitats throughout their natural range including mountain woodlands, coniferous forest, swampland, deserts and even in suburban areas in some places.

    Black bears can live in a variety of habitat types. They inhabit both coniferous and deciduous forests, as well as open alpine habitats. They typically don't occur on the Great Plains or other wide-open areas, except along river courses where there is riparian vegetation and trees. They also are moving closer to suburbia!

    Coyotes live in North America and roam the plains, forests, mountains and deserts of Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central America. Some even live in tropical climates. As humans take over more and more countryside, coyotes are adapting to living in cities to find food.

    If you want to see more game on your property you need to provide better habitat for the game you seek.

    https://www.pheasantsforever.org/Hab...er-Basics.aspx

    https://news.orvis.com/hunting/tips-...d-bird-habitat

    https://www.qdma.com/10-red-flags-of-poor-deer-habitat/

    No Lost Balls

    Stand in the forest where you hunt and toss a ball in any random direction you like. If you can easily see it after it lands, then your deer(bird) habitat is lacking. There’s little or no understory forage or cover to hide it from you. But if you lose the ball, great!


    https://www.qdma.com/

    https://www.qdma.com/manage/habitat-improvement/

    Check out those links, they are all ways to improve the habitat on your hunting property. Improving for one upland game species means improving for many others as well. A simple method called hinge cutting leaves cover and forage within reach.
    Last edited by NyFirefighter357; 05-27-2020 at 06:57 AM.

  11. #31
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    It all comes down to habitat here is a new study from this year

    Effects of forest characteristics on ruffed grouse nesting ecology in central Maine 14 February 2020

    https://bioone.org/journals/Wildlife...wlb.00598.full

    Abstract

    Effective wildlife management requires a broad understanding of how forest structure and composition influence habitat use and vital rates during all aspects of species' life-cycles, however habitat characteristics may have variable importance during different life phases.... Our results demonstrate the importance of forest characteristics on multiple components of species' nesting ecology, and we provided management suggestions to promote attractive ruffed grouse nesting habitat while potentially mitigating sources of nesting failure....
    Nesting is a crucial life phase for ruffed grouse because it represents the first major component of recruitment...
    We studied nesting habitat ecology of radio-marked ruffed grouse females at two study areas in central Maine during springs 2015–2017. Our objectives were to 1) evaluate nesting habitat selection, to 2) quantify daily nest survival and cumulative nest success and to 3) assess female survival while nesting. We approached these objectives with an overarching goal of understanding how forest characteristics affected each component of ruffed grouse nesting ecology. ...
    Our first study area at Frye Mountain Wildlife Management Area (FM). This area was owned and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and was comprised of ∼ 2100 ha of second-growth (i.e. harvested by humans at least once) upland forests that resulted from reforestation associated with widespread farm abandonment during the early 20th century. Northern hardwood tree species typically dominated forest stands on this landscape...Frye Mountain was actively managed to promote habitat for ruffed grouse and other forest wildlife through small-scale clear cutting and mowing to maintain fields, and the rural landscape surrounding FM was predominantly maturing second-growth forest with private ownership, interspersed with small-scale agriculture.

    Our second study area was in Penobscot and Hancock Counties, Maine..., along a privately-maintained road known as the Stud Mill Road (SM). This area was comprised of expansive, privately-owned commercial forests, characterized by second-growth upland forest and wetlands. ...Common avian predators at both study sites included red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis, Cooper's hawk Accipiter cooperii, American crow Corvus brachyrhynchos and barred owl Strix varia. Common mammalian predators included red fox Vulpes vulpes, striped skunk Mephitis mephitis, raccoon Procyon lotor, coyote Canis latrans, American marten Martes americana and fisher Pekania pennanti. Additional details about each study area may be found in Mangelinckx et al. (2018), and see Davis et al. (2018) for a description of ruffed grouse hunting within each study area...
    Within three days after a nest's predicted or actual hatch date, we sampled habitat characteristics at nests and two random locations located between 50 m and 200 m from each nest....
    Descriptions of habitat covariates included in all analyses.
    See link for graphs
    Based on existing literature, we selected six habitat characteristics to represent hypotheses about resources that were potentially important to ruffed grouse females when selecting nest sites, and/or that may contribute to nest success or female survival while nesting (Table 1). We investigated the potential influence of the density of seedlings and saplings > 1 m tall and < 10 cm diameter at breast height (dbh; hereafter, stem density) given the centrality of this habitat characteristic within guidelines for ruffed grouse habitat management (Gullion 1984, Dessecker and McAuley 2001). We also investigated the effects of stem species class (i.e. deciduous versus conifer), as there is some disagreement in the literature regarding the value of conifer stems as components of ruffed grouse habitat; some studies have suggested conifers as a necessary habitat component (Bump et al. 1947, Chambers and Sharp 1958), while others have suggested that conifers are generally detrimental to ruffed grouse (Gullion 1984, Zimmerman et al. 2009). We evaluated total basal area (m2 ha–1) and conifer basal area (m2 ha–1); besides being generally good descriptive metrics of forest structure, we were specifically interested in basal area because one study in the central Appalachians found that female ruffed grouse selected sites with greater basal area for nesting, and that it was positively related to nest success (Tirpak et al. 2006). We also estimated percent ground cover by forbs, seedlings, Rubus, ferns and coarse woody debris (CWD; dead woody vegetation ≥ 10 cm in diameter) using the percent cover delineations specified by Daubenmire (1959). We investigated the potential role of CWD (presence/absence) in ruffed grouse nesting ecology, because Tirpak et al. (2006) also observed a positive association of this habitat characteristic to nest-site selection and nest success. Lastly, we assessed horizontal visual obstruction (%) to assess the degree to which individual ruffed grouse nests were visually concealed from predators (Martin and Roper 1988, Møller 1989). Because little research had focused on ruffed grouse nesting ecology in Maine, we recorded each nest's substrate (e.g. tree, stump, log, etc.) to document potential regionally-specific substrate use that may be different from patterns observed in other geographic regions.
    While we were primarily interested in examining the effects of forest characteristics, we hypothesized that weather conditions and proximity to roads and trails (Gates and Gysel 1978, Tirpak et al. 2006) may influence ruffed grouse nesting success. We therefore included these variables in our models to examine the relative importance of forest characteristics and avoid potentially confounding effects of weather and proximity to roads....
    Nest-site selection
    We evaluated ruffed grouse nest-site selection using resource selection functions (RSFs) that took the form of generalized linear models (GLMs; Nelder and Wedderburn 1972) constructed in program R (< www.r-project.org>). In this analysis, we compared all nest sites to our sample of available nest sites (i.e. random locations). ...
    Nest and nesting female survival
    We estimated daily nest survival for the combined egg laying and incubation periods using nest survival models in program MARK...We then assessed whether this same set of covariates contributed to the survival of females while nesting. For this analysis, females that either successfully hatched nests, or whose nests failed but that survived, were right-censored from the survival history following their nest's fate, such that each female was alive and available for death until the fate of their nests. Female survival in this context therefore reflects strictly female survival while nesting, and not female survival during the nesting season, per se. While female mortality contributes to total nest failure, there may be different factors influencing the mortality risk of nesting females compared with the fate of the nest in general. Hence, the interpretation of these results was based solely on whether the covariates we investigated caused variation in female survival while nesting, a specific source of nesting failure.
    Lastly, we attempted to disentangle factors affecting female survival while nesting from those influencing other sources of nesting failure (e.g. predators consuming eggs). To do this, we followed a similar analysis to our assessment of female mortality, where we right censored all nests where the incubating female was killed during nesting; thus these nests were considered active and available for failure until the day when the female was killed. This allowed us to evaluate how the covariates contributed to sources of nesting failure that were explicitly not associated with female mortality during nesting...
    We monitored survival and measured habitat characteristics at 45 nests, belonging to 37 individual ruffed grouse, of which 34 were radio-marked females and three were unmarked females whose nests we found opportunistically...
    Of 45 nests, 22 (49%) were adjacent to live trees ≥ 10-cm dbh, 9 (20%) were positioned against seedlings or saplings < 10-cm dbh, 6 (13%) were under logs or in brush piles, four (9%) were adjacent to snags or stumps and four (9%) were in thick understory vegetation (i.e. ferns or bramble), but not adjacent to any larger object. We did not observe any nests adjacent to rocks or boulders....
    We censored one nest from our survival analysis that was abandoned immediately after we flushed the female. Of the remaining 44 nests, 24 were successful and 20 failed. Twelve nests (60% of failures) were destroyed by predators, where four nests had eggshell fragments in or around the nest bowl and eight had no eggshell remains. Seven nests (35%) failed when the nesting female was killed, and 1 (5%) was abandoned for an unknown reason. ...
    We monitored female survival during 43 nesting attempts, excluding two nesting attempts of unmarked females where we could not determine female status after nest loss. Six females were killed by predators during incubation of a first nest and one was killed during incubation of a renest. Four of these mortalities occurred in 2015, three occurred in 2016 and no mortalities occurred in 2017... From the final model, we found evidence that basal area, conifer stem density and the presence of CWD(course wood debris) were associated with the survival of females while nesting. Female survival while nesting was negatively associated with greater basal area and greater conifer stem density at nest sites, where a increase in basal area and a increase in conifer stem density was associated with 13.6% and 7.4% reduction in female survival, respectively. In addition, females whose nests had CWD nearby were ∼ 25% less likely to survive compared to females whose nest sites were without CWD

    Nest survival without female mortality
    We found that females exhibited the strongest selection for nest sites with increased horizontal visual obstruction. The component features of the forest understory that we measured (seedlings, forbs, Rubus, ferns) each contributed to this visual obstruction, but there was not a single understory feature that drove the relationship. A variety of woody and herbaceous plant types are therefore likely to provide this habitat characteristic, and selection of horizontal visual obstruction indicates that the understory is perhaps a previously undervalued component of ruffed grouse nesting habitat. Traditional ruffed grouse habitat management suggested that stands with dense midstories are optimal for ruffed grouse nesting because such areas inhibit the growth of an understory (Gullion 1984, Thompson et al. 1987), which was thought to be unnecessary for nesting given the concealment provided by the cryptic coloration of females (Bergerud and Gratson 1988). Other studies have supported this claim by showing no effect of nest concealment on either ruffed grouse nest-site selection or nest success (Larson et al. 2003, Tirpak et al. 2006), however another study observed greater nesting success in areas with dense understories (Maxson 1978). Although we observed selection of horizontal visual obstruction, this characteristic did not appear to benefit females by increasing their nest success. Females may select nest sites with well-developed understory vegetation to promote subsequent components of reproduction, such as brood-rearing. Understory vegetation likely contributes to chick survival and growth by providing important food resources such as invertebrates and low-growing forbs (Kimmel and Samuel 1984). The area immediately surrounding the nest site is the first habitat that will be encountered by a female's precocial, self-feeding young and females may therefore consider the proximity to chick food resources when deciding where to nest. This pattern has been observed in other avian species (Streby et al. 2014), and female ruffed grouse in our system selected brood rearing habitat with greater availability of forbs and Rubus (Mangelinckx et al. 2018). Regardless of mechanism, considering the role of the forest understory to ruffed grouse nesting ecology is clearly important because females chose to nest in areas with greater understory concealment.
    ...
    We found that all habitat variables supported in our demographic analyses (i.e. CWD, conifer stem density and basal area) were associated with female mortality during nesting, while there was limited to no support for habitat effects on other sources of nest failure (primarily consumption of eggs by predators). These results may suggest that predation of ruffed grouse clutches occurred more randomly and was carried out by generalist predators that detected nests opportunistically. In our study area, this includes mammalian meso-carnivores such as red fox, striped skunk and raccoon. A previous study of two sympatric forest grouse (capercaillie Tetrao urogallus and black grouse Tetrao tetrix) in Norway found that mammalian predators were not more likely to locate grouse nests with increased search effort(Storaas et al. 1999), supporting the assertion that predation of nests belonging to forest grouse is a chance event. If indeed predation of forest grouse nests is a random process, then rates of nest predation may be a function of landscape configuration, predator density or other factors that are not explicitly associated with the nest micro-site (Whittingham and Evans 2004, Baines et al. 2016). In particular, fragmentation likely influences the community dynamics of generalist predators because these species are known to select small habitat patches and edges (Červinka et al. 2011). Therefore, a thorough understanding of an area's predator community and how it is influenced by a site's spatial configuration is necessary to guide effective management to reduce predation of forest grouse nests. In contrast, we found that specific habitat features (i.e. areas with greater basal area, conifer stem densities and CWD present) were associated with the probability that a female would be killed by a predator, suggesting a stronger link between local habitat characteristics at nests sites and female mortality risk and perhaps a greater association with specialist predators (e.g. Accipiter hawks). For example, the northern goshawk Accipiter gentilis is a specialist predator of forest grouse in Europe (Tornberg 2001) and North America (Hewitt et al. 2001) that is known to select specific forest characteristics for foraging (Beier and Drennan 1997). Such characteristics presumably increase predatory foraging efficiency via associations with alternate prey abundance (e.g. CWD and small mammals; Fauteux et al. 2012) and/or hunting success (Andruskiw et al. 2008). Nevertheless, based on our results, land managers may be able to reduce the predation risk to incubating forest grouse females through habitat management. ...
    Female ruffed grouse neither selected nor avoided areas for nesting that contained CWD, yet its presence in the immediate vicinity of the nest reduced overall nest success via its negative effect on female survival. We recognize that CWD is an important habitat component for breeding males, because males most often use fallen logs as platforms for their drumming displays (Zimmerman and Gutiérrez 2008, Davis 2017). However, Roy et al. (2015) observed relatively broad distribution and high densities of drumming males in a system where limited CWD was present, which suggests that drumming platforms are not likely to limit components of ruffed grouse habitat. This allows managers some flexibility to promote survival and reproductive success during nesting without necessarily compromising a habitat feature that is a requirement of other life-stages. We also acknowledge that in our system CWD was often completely absent from nest sites, which required us to treat it as a binary (present/absent) variable in our analysis. Understanding how variation in CWD density affects ruffed grouse nesting could provide more nuanced insights, but was not possible from our analysis.
    Our results suggest that greater conifer stem densities at nest sites were associated with reduced female survival while nesting. Davis (2017) found that male ruffed grouse selected display locations with greater conifer stem density, and both Berkeley and Gutiérrez (2017) and Davis (2017) showed no effect of conifer use on male display behaviors. Other previous studies observed either limited (< 5%; Bump et al. 1947, Maxson 1978) or more frequent use (> 33%; Larson et al. 2003) of conifer cover types, but said little regarding their possible effects on vital rates. Thus, the role of conifers in affecting ruffed grouse demographics as a whole remains unclear, but during our study it played a negative role in female survival during nesting...
    We found no evidence that weather affected ruffed grouse nest success or female survival, despite multiple plausible mechanisms that could cause such effects...
    We found that nesting female ruffed grouse during in our study had a > 25% chance of being killed by a predator before they could successfully hatch a clutch of eggs. While we observed a relatively modest number of mortalities, this level of mortality is, to our knowledge, unprecedented in the ruffed grouse literature. .. This indicates that nesting was a particularly risky activity for ruffed grouse females in our system, likely because of increased vulnerability to predators while associated with a nest.

    Conclusions
    Contrary to ruffed grouse studies in other regions, our results suggest that dense understories are a desirable component of ruffed grouse nesting habitat based on their strong selection for this characteristic. Because we did not observe an effect of understory cover on nest success or female survival while nesting, it may be selected at nest sites to benefit chicks immediately after hatch through the food resources it provides. We also found that increased conifer stem density and basal area were associated with reduced female survival while nesting. Therefore, we recommend that managers maintain conifer stem densities < 4000 stems ha–1 and basal areas < 24 m2 ha–1 to promote female survival (Fig. 2). In addition, we found that the presence of CWD in proximity to the nest bowl was associated with reduced overall nest success via its association with female mortality while nesting. As CWD is not likely a limiting resource for ruffed grouse males that use fallen logs as display platforms, we propose that managers exhibit caution when retaining CWD during timber harvests for the benefit of ruffed grouse because this resource may limit ruffed grouse females' abilities to survive while nesting and ultimately achieve reproductive success.

  12. #32
    Boolit Master
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    NyFirefighter357 Yes they need a home but this habitat is all what they make it. Ruffed Grouse only needs 20 minutes to eat. Learned to hide in snow and find cover.

    If predator are not the trouble then why are we paying them?

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy (punchie) View Post
    NyFirefighter357 Yes they need a home but this habitat is all what they make it. Ruffed Grouse only needs 20 minutes to eat. Learned to hide in snow and find cover.

    If predator are not the trouble then why are we paying them?
    Predators are a part of the problem but not because there are too many, it's because of the loss of habitat leave grouse or any other upland game more exposed to them. If the ground cover isn't thick enough they are more exposed during nesting, if the food isn't plentiful they have to travel further in less cover exposing them to more predation. If the habitat isn't good the success rate of nesting lowers and the chance of raising a brood to adulthood is lower. The better the habitat, the more an area can provide food & cover the more chicks you end up getting to adulthood, the more that reach adulthood the more can breed the following year. I have to go, I'll come back this later today.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy (punchie) View Post
    NyFirefighter357 Yes they need a home but this habitat is all what they make it. Ruffed Grouse only needs 20 minutes to eat. Learned to hide in snow and find cover.

    If predator are not the trouble then why are we paying them?
    While it's true if there are less predators there should be less predation if an area can't provide enough food it can't support as much game either.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master trapper9260's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NyFirefighter357 View Post
    Predators are a part of the problem but not because there are too many, it's because of the loss of habitat leave grouse or any other upland game more exposed to them. If the ground cover isn't thick enough they are more exposed during nesting, if the food isn't plentiful they have to travel further in less cover exposing them to more predation. If the habitat isn't good the success rate of nesting lowers and the chance of raising a brood to adulthood is lower. The better the habitat, the more an area can provide food & cover the more chicks you end up getting to adulthood, the more that reach adulthood the more can breed the following year. I have to go, I'll come back this later today.
    This sums it up I see it around here. I have seen 4 grouse one time about 2 years ago when I was checking my trap line and they where in the heavy cover. I have not seen them like that in many year .That is back in the state of MA ,Now here in IA they do not have all the area that the grouse will be able to live and like stated for the predators are not control then the game birds will be down. I seen for the years I trap the same area that the games birds start to go up and show up more. As for the coyotes. All you can do is control them ,you will not be able to clean them out because new ones will move in.I seen that trapping in the past.For the amount of coyotes that they have for pups depend on the food they will have. I told one beef farmer that I trap on that I will not be bale to wipe out the coyotes ,just manage them and he understand so I just trap it every season.Coon when they not trap the way they should be mother nature will take care of it like any other wildlife. I trap everything.The place across the street from me I trap for the landowner and see the games birds show up more since I am control the predators.
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  16. #36
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Peace River, Alberta
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    The grouse population (all species) here used to be on a 7 year population cycle. Year 5 and there were enough grouse to hunt, year 6 the hunting was good, year 7 a twenty minute walk through grouse habitat would let you see 35 to over a 100 birds.
    We have 3 species of grouse locally, ruffed, spruce, and sharptail. All were on the population cycle and all peaked about the same time every seven years or so, and then the populations would crash. Likely from predators. Canadian fur trade records going back almost 300 years indicate that the lynx - rabbit population cycle are related. The Rabbit cycle seemed to be concurrent with the grouse cycle in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In the areas where I hunt there has been huge habitat loss due to large scale agricultural expansion on private lands. Also zero till farming has decimated the small game population. Crops are a monoculture with no weeds or insects. There are not even mice in zero till fields here.
    Bottom line, habitat changes, agricultural practices, and predators have created limiting factors that block grouse from building up higher populations.

    In the 1970s two attractive neighbor girls went to Norway and brought back husbands. These guys were hunters, and in the rural remote area where we lived they hunted the sharptail flocks to extinction in the local townships. Sharptail here are a "Lekking" species. They have a very defined territory and birds stay within a flock for their entire lives. Territory of a flock is 300 to 1200 acres in the boreal mixed farmland habitat. A small number of male sharptail engage in "Wild and crazy flight" during the mating season - that would end up with genes being spread through the region, however that is rather rare. The female Sharptail stay in their flock and territory all of their lives. This makes it very easy for a hunter or group of hunters to wipe out a Lekking flock. Harvesting all the birds in the flock wipes out the Lek and because of their territorial nature, it can take 30 years or more for new birds to move in.

    On another note, a cold wet spring will reduce the survival rate of chicks in a brood. So will hawks, owls magpies, crows, and any avian's that are opportunist predators. The beautiful Blue Jay will kill and eat grouse chicks in the spring.
    Go now and pour yourself a hot one...

  17. #37
    Boolit Grand Master

    dragon813gt's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
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    Somewhere in SE PA
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    Modern farming practices killed off all the grouse and pheasants by me. Can’t tell you the last time I saw a wild one of either species. Every year one of two farm raised pheasants will make their way into town from the game lands a few miles south of me. They don’t like to fly.

  18. #38
    Boolit Buddy
    one-eyed fat man's Avatar
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    May 2009
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    Elizabethtown, KY
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    The bobwhite quail population in Kentucky, among other surrounding states, has been in a perpetual state of decline since the 1960s due to habitat loss created by factors such as the introduction of KY-31 tall fescue and modern agriculture.

    If you’re not familiar with fescue, it’s a cool season grass that grows in a really thick, dense mat on the ground. It prevents quail chicks from being able to move around because they are only about the size of a bumble bee and they need lots of bare ground with cover. Fescue prevents that.

  19. #39
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Apr 2017
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    I have an incubator. I’d like to raise some and let them go. It looks like eggs are worth the price of gold if you can find them.

  20. #40
    Boolit Bub
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    n e penna
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    here in ne pa where I live, we used to have quite a few grouse. now we have lots of hawks and owls and coyote and such. in January where the great horned owls are really hooting, I can step outside and pinpoint 4 or 5, and I am hard of hearing. shame cause grouse are good eating.
    Barry

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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