Citizens interested in Minnesota ruffed grouse and the habitat that supports them can now provide input on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) proposed ruffed grouse long-range management plan.
The public comment period, which is available online only continued through Dec. 19.
Comments may be made by going to the DNR's grouse management plan website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/grouse/input.html.
With an average annual harvest rate of 519,000 grouse during the past 10 years, Minnesota is one of the nation's top three ruffed grouse states. The average hunter harvests five birds each year in Minnesota. Annual total harvests have reached 1.2 million birds during peak years.
Minnesota leads the nation in aspen-birch forest type, the preferred habitat of ruffed grouse, and offers more than 11 million acres of federal, state and county land open to public hunting, much of it located within the primary grouse range.
The draft plan's long-range vision for ruffed grouse in Minnesota includes sufficient quantity, quality and distribution of habitat to support robust grouse populations throughout the species' range in the state. The plan also addresses maintaining grouse hunter numbers, and provides for quality habitat to support healthy ruffed grouse populations throughout their range.
"Our goal is 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 Cynthia Osmundson, forest wildlife program leader.
Public input will be reviewed and considered in January. The final Minnesota ruffed grouse management plan will help guide ruffed grouse management during the next 10 years.