ST. PAUL - A long-range ruffed grouse habitat and population management plan is now available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) website at www.mndnr.gov/grouse.
"The plan reinforces the state's commitment to ensure the viability of ruffed grouse and their forest habitat, manage grouse as an integral part of Minnesota's forested landscapes, and encourage and promote hunting and observation of ruffed grouse in their natural habitat," said Bob Welsh, DNR wildlife habitat program manager.
An average annual harvest of more than 500,000 birds over the past 25 years places Minnesota as one of the nation's top three ruffed grouse states. Grouse hunter numbers have traditionally followed cyclic changes in drumming survey indices, but when drumming surveys trended upward recently, hunter numbers did not follow as they had in the past. The plan includes strategies to reverse that trend by offering improved habitat and access, as well as programs to help new hunters
The DNR's ruffed grouse management plan was approved earlier this year after public comments on the draft plan were reviewed and considered.
"Now that the plan has been approved, we can continue to implement and accelerate our strategies to maintain great hunting opportunities," said Ted Dick, DNR grouse coordinator. "Those strategies include improved access to hunting land, better information for hunters and education for new hunters, and focused input to the timber planning process that will ensure that grouse habitat needs are well-presented and considered in all forest planning processes."
Minnesota offers more than 11 million acres of federal, state and county land open to public hunting.
Persons interested in learning more about grouse, hunting opportunities and available online tools are encouraged to visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/grouse. More information, including podcasts, more detailed mapping and hunter education class announcements will be posted there as they are developed.