Roadside ruffed grouse surveys completed this spring show statewide drumming activity increased 41% between 2018 and 2019, the DNR reports. This increase aligns with a generally predictable grouse population cycle.

The large increase in 2019 has made up for much of the unanticipated decline seen in 2018 drumming surveys and appears to put Wisconsin back on track for approaching the next cyclical high in the ruffed grouse population.

For complete survey results, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “reports.”

Roadside surveys to monitor the number of breeding grouse have been conducted by staff from the department, U.S. Forest Service, tribal employees and numerous grouse enthusiasts and volunteers since 1964.

The survey results showed a 41% increase statewide over 2018 levels. The central part of the state showed an increase of 35% in drumming activity, and the northern forest showed an increase of 48% in drumming activity. These two areas comprise the primary grouse range in Wisconsin.

Drumming activity in southwestern and southeastern Wisconsin are at or near historic lows.

“Ruffed grouse rely on dense, young forest cover resulting from disturbances such as fire and logging,” said Mark Witecha, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. “Beyond actively managing state-owned lands, Wisconsin DNR is working to provide suitable grouse habitat through collaborative efforts...(that) provide technical and financial assistance for delivering young forest management on private lands, benefitting ruffed grouse and other wildlife species by helping maintain healthy and diverse forest communities.”

The DNR is currently working with partners to develop a ruffed grouse management plan, which will be released for public review later this summer, with associated public meetings to be held during a public comment period.