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Ruffed Grouse - Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada (Wikipedia)
Ruffed Grouse - Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada (Wikipedia)

DEC asks hunters to help count declining grouse population

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State environment officials are asking hunters for more help tracking the falling numbers of Ruffed Grouse, one of the most popular game birds in New York.

Michael Schiavone is a wildlife biologist with the Department of Environmental Conservation. He says grouse prefer young forests and their habitat is aging.

Over the past six years, he says hunters in the field filled in blank logs to give the DEC valuable head counts of ruffed grouse. He tells Jonathan Brown the high rate of participation in this bird count is partly due to the grouse's popularity and its distinctive drumming sound.

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Schiavone says earlier studies found that hunting doesn’t play a major role in the decline of the Ruffed Grouse population.

"It seems like habitat loss is the main driver," he said.

And according to recent surveys, the highest density of grouse in New York is in a wide swath running from the St Lawrence Valley, through the western Adirondacks to Binghamton.

On the DEC's web site, you can print out a blank log for the Ruffed Grouse bird count. There’s a link to that online page just three inches above this sentence.

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