2015 Hunting Season Forecast
This report has been compiled by the Ruffed Grouse Society biologists:
Dan Dessecker, Director of Conservation Policy, Wisconsin
Eric Ellis, Regional Biologist Michigan, Ohio & Indiana
Linda D. Ordiway, PhD, Regional Biologist Mid-Atlantic & Southern Appalachia
Andrew Weik, Regional Biologist New York, New England & Eastern Canada
Ted Dick, MN DNR Forest Game Bird Coordinator, Minnesota
MN DNR position partially funded by RGS
Photo by Paul Carson
Connecticut’s upland game bird biologist Mike Gregonis predicts, “Ruffed grouse in Connecticut should see some increased productivity because of favorable weather conditions during the nesting and brood rearing periods. Noteworthy sightings of two grouse broods this spring in a large two-year-old regenerating clear cut on a state wildlife management area are an early affirmation that proper habitat management does work.”
The majority of Connecticut grouse are in the northern third of the state, this is also where much of the best grouse habitat exists.
The annual woodcock singing-ground survey this year recorded the lowest number of singing males per survey route since the survey began in the 1960s, with the singing male index falling about 10 percent from the 2014 mark. Favorable weather this spring should bolster woodcock production, especially on state and private lands where timber harvesting to improve New England cottontail and American woodcock habitat has occurred in the past few years.
The ruffed grouse population in Indiana is on life support and stands at less than 2 percent of what it was in the early 1980s. Ruffed grouse numbers have been pushed to a sliver of what they once were by forest succession away from young stands to middle and older stages of development due to a lack of active management on both private and public forests. According to Steve Backs, wildlife research biologist with the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, the 2015 drumming surveys again did not locate any male ruffed grouse along routes that have been surveyed for decades.
The status of ruffed grouse in Indiana, a once thriving bird in the state, could barely be worse. In response, the hunting season for ruffed grouse in Indiana was recently suspended. Without significant changes in public perceptions and land management, it is unlikely that the season will reopen anytime soon. The increase in timber sale volume on state lands in recent years is helpful, but it will take more of this work and other landowners (private and federal) to step up to reverse the decline.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service woodcock singing-ground counts in 2015 surveyed 18 routes in Indiana and found a 6.78 percent decrease in the number of singing males as compared to 2014. This number is worse than the overall annual decrease of 4.19 percent since 1968. With the current lack of young forest habitat creation in the state, on both private and public lands, this trend is likely to continue into the future. One positive, even when habitat is created in isolated pockets the migratory woodcock can take advantage and provide folks with a hunting and wildlife viewing opportunity. American woodcock season is from October 15 to November 28 in Indiana in 2015.
As did much of the Northeast, Maine experienced a uniformly cold winter with plenty of snow which afforded excellent opportunity for grouse to snow roost and thus lay low from predators and conserve energy. Spring turned pleasant and mild. According to Kelsey Sullivan, game bird program leader for Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), “We had really good nesting conditions in May. June had a little more rainfall, but it wasn’t excessive. Overall, environmental conditions were favorable for nesting by grouse and woodcock.”
In a collaborative study between the University of Maine and MDIFW, radio-marked female grouse that lost a nest, readily re-nested. The numbers of drumming males on survey sites was similar to last year. The number of woodcock heard on the statewide singing-ground survey was down slightly from last year. All indications point to a fall grouse population somewhat larger than last year, and woodcock numbers should be similar to 2014.
The range of ruffed grouse in Maryland is primarily limited to Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties. Surveys show that the highest densities are found in the westernmost portions of the region. Although flushing rates declined in the 2014-15 season, the population has generally remained stable over the last decade. Unfavorable spring weather may have impacted grouse nesting success to some degree, but hunters should still be able to find some birds this fall if they focus their efforts in good habitat. Breeding woodcock reproductive success in Maryland may also have been affected by early spring weather. However, hunters targeting migrant woodcock later in the season may not notice much of a change in numbers. Information provided by Bob Long, Maryland DNR – Wildlife and Heritage Service, Wild Turkey and Upland Game Bird Project Manager.
Maryland ruffed grouse flushes and kills per hour hunted reported by Ruffed Grouse Cooperators.
At this writing, the drummer surveys had not yet been summarized. Massachusetts State Upland Gamebird Biologist David Scarpitti noted that, “This spring, brood-rearing conditions have been pretty good. As we all know, last winter was pretty awful for a lot of resident species, but most suspected the grouse would have overwintered well given the light fluffy composition of the snow.”
There was a slight uptick in the number of male woodcock recorded on the statewide singing-ground survey, and as with grouse, woodcock production should benefit this year from the favorable spring weather, and barring a late summer drought, the local woodcock population should improve.
Says Scarpitti, “Definitely expect to see good hunting opportunities this fall.”
UPDATE - September 18, 2015 - MI DNR News Release - Ruffed Grouse and American Woodcock Status Report now available!
Specific data from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources spring ruffed grouse drumming surveys was not available at the time of this writing. Thus, the season forecast for Michigan is based on winter/spring weather patterns and a compilation of biologist and hunter observations that RGS and AWS Regional Biologist Eric Ellis collected over the spring.
In northern Michigan, winter weather conditions were good with suitable snow roosting conditions for much of the winter with some crusting of the snow at the tail end of the season. Temperatures were well above average in May for most of the state but slightly cool in June. Early May was dry but the end of the month saw significant precipitation, potentially impacting nesting grouse and recently hatched chicks. Gaylord saw its tenth wettest June on record with most of that coming in the last two weeks of the month. Below are charts from the U.S. National Weather Service in Gaylord that shows the average temperature and rainfall for the months of May and June for much of northern Michigan.
Eric heard individual drumming survey route reports that had similar results as last year and many more that are up 20 to 40 percent from last year. That is the good news. Subsequently, there have been a smattering of reports of broods that are smaller than what people have seen in recent years with average numbers around 2 to 4. That is the bad news. As is often the case, localized events can dramatically impact what an individual hunter experiences in the field, and the wet weather at the end of May could have impacted grouse right around the time many were hatching. As usual, reports on grouse numbers increased going from the southern part of the state north with the Upper Peninsula having the highest numbers. All evidence points to Michigan being around two years up from the bottom of the 10-year cycle and grouse hunting being at least as good as last year with many areas of higher numbers than last year where the late May heavy rains did not have an impact and where there is good habitat. Another positive note, many foresters and field biologists Eric has spoken with have noticed a good soft and hard mast crop again this year, especially with oaks in certain areas. In Michigan, ruffed grouse season begins on September 15 running until November 14. It then reopens December 1 through January 1.
|The above left map shows precipitation in June as a percent of the mean. Orange, yellow, and light green are below the mean precipitation. Dark greens and blues are above the mean. Areas of southern Michigan had nearly 300% higher than normal precipitation. The map on the right represents temperature departure from the mean for June. Green colors are below the mean.|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey data on American woodcock from this past spring indicate that populations were down 0.86 percent along the 109 surveyed routes in Michigan, a number similar to the long term annual average of -0.69 percent but much better than the 4.4 percent drop last year. Weather conditions for woodcock nesting were better than those for grouse with significantly warmer temps and drier conditions in early May leaving one to suspect that woodcock numbers this fall will be better than last season as a whole. American woodcock season in Michigan runs from September 19 until November 2.
The following is from the 2015 Minnesota Grouse Survey and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Ruffed grouse counts similar to last year News Release of June 29, 2015. The ruffed grouse is the most popular game bird in Minnesota, with an annual harvest averaging greater than 500,000 birds (~150,000 -1.4 million birds). Ruffed grouse hunter numbers have been as high as 92,000 during the last decade, although hunter numbers did not peak with the recent peak in grouse numbers, as they have traditionally.
Minnesota ruffed grouse survey regions are shown in Figure 1 below. Statewide counts of ruffed grouse drums averaged 1.1 drums/stop (dps) during 2015 (Figure 3). Drum counts were 1.3 dps in the Northeast on 103 routes, 1.0 dps in the Northwest on 8 routes, 0.7 dps in the Central Hardwoods on 15 routes, and 0.4 dps in the Southeast on 8 routes (Figure 4a-d).
Note: Figures 2 and 4c and d can be found in the complete Minnesota grouse survey report pdf.
Statewide drum counts were similar to last year (-1 percent change). This follows a significant increase of 34 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to Charlotte Roy, DNR grouse project leader. “While it can be tenuous to compare the results of only one year to the next, we suspect the cold, wet spring of 2014 may have hurt grouse production,” she said. “We also had comparatively little snow last year for roosting, which may have influenced overwinter survival.”
American Woodcock Singing-ground Survey data for 2015 indicated that the index for singing American woodcock males in the Central Management Region was not significantly different from 2014, with Minnesota up 28.12 percent. The 10-year trend in the Central Management Region was not significant after showing a decline last year, with Minnesota showing a non-significant increase (0.53 percent). The region has a significant, long-term (1968-15) declining trend (-0.7 percent/year), with Minnesota showing a non-significant increase (0.40 percent). The 2014 recruitment index for the U.S. portion of the Central Region (1.39 immatures per adult female) was 9.6 percent less than the 2013 index and was 10.6 percent less than the long-term regional index. Estimates from the Harvest Information Program indicated that approximately 13,500 Minnesota woodcock hunters spent 47,500 days afield and harvested 23,900 woodcock. Given the foregoing information, the population should be similar to 2014.
Please reference the complete American Woodcock: Population Status, 2015 report for complete details.
Each year Upland Game Bird Program Leader Karen Bordeau and other wildlife biologists and volunteers perform grouse drumming surveys from mid-April through mid-May to assess grouse breeding populations across five regions of New Hampshire. The number of drumming events heard per stop in 2015 decreased in the North and White Mountains regions, increased in the Central and Southwest regions, and was unchanged in the Southeast. According to Bordeau, “Within the North Region for the past 11 years, we have run six to eight select drumming survey routes to track changes in grouse abundance on our premier grouse range. In 2015, the survey results show an average of 0.84 drumming events per stop. The survey results remained the same from the reported drumming events per stop in 2014.”
“Weather during the hatch and brooding time has significant impact on nesting success and chick survival,” Bordeau continued. “The semi-drought conditions and temperatures appeared excellent for breeding birds until we had a heavy rain event in early June, when chicks were downy and on the ground. Early reports indicate that we should have average production.”
The number of woodcock tallied per route on the annual statewide singing-ground survey was off slightly from last year. Woodcock hatch earlier than grouse, so the weather conditions favored good production by woodcock in New Hampshire this year.
New York had good weather for nesting in May, however above-average rainfall in most of the state in June may have negatively affected nest success and chick survival, or alternatively resulted in abundant food resources for woodcock in the form of earthworms and other soil surface invertebrates, and for grouse in the form of insects, leafy plants, and berries. The drumming rate from this spring’s turkey hunter observation survey was 0.24 grouse drumming/hour, which is a 9 percent increase from last year. The spring drumming rate has shown to be a good predictor of the fall flush rate for grouse. “This would suggest that the flush rate this fall will be higher than last year,” remarked Mike Schiavone, New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) lead upland gamebird biologist.
According to Schiavone, “The breeding population index (singing males/route) for American woodcock from the singing-ground survey (coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) increased from spring 2014 to spring 2015, so we anticipate that we will see an increase in the number of birds hunters encounter this fall. A lot depends on reproductive success this summer, but in general, the breeding index is a good indicator of abundance.”
You can read about the “Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Log” on DEC’s website http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9351.html.
Spring Ruffed Grouse Numbers Improved
North Dakota Game and Fish Department News
Monday, July 13, 2015
North Dakota’s spring ruffed grouse survey indicated a 44 percent population increase statewide compared to 2014, according to Stan Kohn, upland game bird supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department.
The number of male grouse heard drumming in the Pembina Hills was up 86 percent from last year, while the Turtle Mountains had a 35 percent increase. No drumming males were heard in McHenry County (J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge), where they have not been heard since 2006.
The statewide average number of ruffed grouse drums heard per best stop was 0.94, up from last year’s count of 0.65. The last year statewide spring drumming counts were higher than 2.0 was in 1999.
“Ruffed grouse in North Dakota seem to adjust their numbers depending on habitat quantity and quality in an area and amount of food available,” Kohn said. “In states with good continuous aspen/birch forest habitat, ruffed grouse numbers usually rise and fall around 9- to 10-year cycles, but because the habitat in North Dakota is so fragmented, we haven’t seen these 10-year fluctuations in many years.”
Preliminary data from Ohio indicate that ruffed grouse numbers continue to decline with the average number of drumming grouse heard during surveys this past spring at 0.013 per route vs. 0.019 last year. This translates into 1.25 drumming grouse per 100 stops vs. 1.94 drumming grouse per 100 stops last year. Ten years ago the number of grouse drumming per 100 stops was 4.47. Adding to the bad news has been the above average and consistent rain and cool temperatures since June 1 in the state. Below is a chart provided by ODNR biologist Mark Wiley with the drumming survey results since 1997.
RGS continues to support young forest management on private and public lands in Ohio. There are still opportunities to pursue grouse in many pockets of habitat on state land, the best opportunities are in southern Ohio including the Shawnee, Zaleski, Tar Hollow and Vinton Furnace State Forests. Ruffed grouse season in Ohio begins on October 10 and runs until January 31.
On the bright side, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service woodcock singing-ground surveys in 2015 showed an 8.98 percent increase in singing males from 2014 on the 41 routes surveyed. This yearly increase is quite the departure from the annual decrease of 1.25 increase since 1968. There has been an increase in the amount of available habitat on state forest lands in recent years due to active forest management and ice storms, something that is likely benefitting American woodcock. The weather in much of the state during brood rearing (April and May) was also much warmer than normal with precipitation lower than average boding well for broods on the ground at that time and hunters pursuing them in the fall. American woodcock season begins on October 10 in Ohio. The season ending date is listed as TBD but should be 45 days later.
Woodcock populations in Pennsylvania have held fairly steady over the past 15 years, and woodcock advocates are optimistic about continued improvement according to Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) Grouse and Woodcock Biologist Lisa Williams. Populations are responding well to aggressive habitat creation and restoration – a priority of the PGC and its partners. Although the number of birds any individual hunter encounters largely hinges on the timing of migration, in general we look forward to an average to above-average woodcock season in Pennsylvania.
Last season’s grouse flush rates were the lowest experienced by Pennsylvania hunters in 50 years of monitoring (See figure – black squares). Summer grouse sightings over the past three years have also be low (see figure – open squares). The weather during this year’s incubation and early brood period was better than we have had in recent years, so we are hopeful that population trends will rebound a bit coming into the 2015-16 season. Overall, the prediction for 2015-16 is for an average to below average season in most of the Commonwealth. As always, best coverts will be found north of Interstate 80, where the combination of abundant food and thick cover can be found at a large landscape scale.
Average annual grouse cooperator flushes/hour and summer grouse sightings in Pennsylvania, 1965-2014.
The woodcock singing-ground survey in Rhode Island has too few routes to generate meaningful numbers at the state level (Rhode Island’s data contribute to the regional analysis), but the mild weather pattern during nesting and hatch and a moist summer will favor production by locally breeding Rhode Island woodcock. With the state’s position in the woodcock migratory pathway, above-average production to the north will benefit woodcock hunters in Rhode Island this fall.
“South Carolina experienced a June of extremely dry conditions placing the state in ‘incipient’ drought status by the South Carolina Drought Committee,” according to Michael W. Hook, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources small game program leader. “If the drought continues throughout the summer and into the fall, many of our lowlands, swamps and wet areas will suffer and possibly concentrate the birds in areas that are holding water. If rainfall returns to the traditional, thunderstorm in the afternoon, summer pattern and the drought status returns to ‘normal’ I would expect this season to be very similar to last year,” Hook stated. The woodcock population usually peaks around the middle of January and South Carolina does have ample opportunity for hunting on public lands with over 1.1 million acres of WMAs available.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department does not develop formal population estimates for ruffed grouse but relies upon anecdotal reports from field personnel and avid hunters to rank the spring reproduction from "poor" to "excellent" based upon grouse broods encountered incidental to other activities. Based upon anecdotal reports, the 2015 brood production seems “fair”.
The early spring was very dry, favorable for grouse nesting, brooding and insect production. Although Vermont had an unusually dry early spring (almost drought) during the April breeding season, June and July have been extremely wet. Cloudy, wet weather with frequent thunderstorms is not favorable for production of insects such as grasshoppers and beetles, the main staples of grouse chicks during this time of year. Late July anecdotal reports indicate brood sizes appear “average”, generally four to eight chicks. While this inclement weather likely has impacted brood survival in some parts of Vermont, adult birds have been sighted with average consistency in favorable covers, so the overall forecast is “fair to good” numbers of grouse in the autumn.
Upland hunters should keep in mind that habitat conditions are the most important factor for ruffed grouse and woodcock populations. Young forest and shrub habitats provide the conditions for grouse to breed and raise their broods successfully, without suffering losses due to exposure to the elements and higher predation rates which occur in marginal habitats such as mature forests. Ruffed grouse can be found around habitat maintenance projects (apple tree releases, old field edges, and clear cuts) on the Green Mountain National Forest and Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in the Green Mountains region of the state, and on WMAs, State Forests and commercial timber lands in northeastern Vermont.
Vermont’s statewide woodcock singing-ground survey showed a slight increase over last year’s record low tally of singing male woodcock. Fair weather during nesting and hatch, and moist summer conditions should help grow the local woodcock population.
Grouse hunters participating in the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (DGIF) 2014-15 Grouse Hunter Survey reported flushing 0.69 grouse per hour. This rate is lower than the 2013-14 season flushing rate (0.90 grouse/hr) and was slightly below the recent five-year average of 0.74 grouse flushed per hour.
The Department annually conducts roadside surveys where staff listen for drumming grouse over a four minute period at one mile intervals over 10 miles. In 2015, staff heard 0.08 drums per route. The 2015 data suggest the breeding population is lower than 2014 where 0.12 drums were heard per route. Over the past 10 years the survey has ranged between 0.06 and 0.12 drums per route. The 10-year average is 0.08 drums per route.
The grouse population in the 2015-16 season will depend on a combination of spring breeding population levels and reproductive success. One of the two important variables, breeding populations, declined significantly in 2015. Despite the decline, the spring breeding index was similar to levels seen over the past 10 years. It is disappointing that we did not see the population grow after the 10-year record high in breeding numbers in 2014. However, reproduction is perhaps the greatest factor driving our grouse population. A good hatch in 2015 may compensate for lower breeding numbers. Grouse should have gone into the 2015 breeding season in good to excellent condition as they had generally abundant mast crops in 2014-15. From our regional research work, we know acorns are a critical food source and grouse rely on them to build fat reserves for survival and reproduction. Another key factor in grouse reproduction is spring weather as extended cold and wet conditions can impact chick survival. Thus far the spring weather conditions appear favorable for grouse chick survival. Therefore, the key and yet unknown factor in grouse numbers this fall will be the weather in the remainder of the spring and summer months. Thus far it looks good, so let’s keep our fingers crossed. Information provided by Gary W. Norman, Virginia DGIF Forest Game Bird Project Leader.
Ruffed grouse drums per route on roadside routes in Virginia, 1994-2015.
Keith Krantz, upland bird biologist West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, provided the following information regarding grouse population status in West Virginia for this fall. Grouse hunters need to understand that fall flushes are directly related to spring production. Spring production is directly related to nest success (which is tied to habitat) and chick survival. While habitat can ameliorate inclement weather to a point thus helping chick survival, it is well reported that cool, wet springs can have a deleterious effect on chicks. It is my perception that “normal” weather is best when it comes to chick survival and “normal” is different depending on what part of the state you reside in. Table 1 was compiled from the U.S. Climate Data website and well documents how rainfall and temperature vary by location. Because most of the grouse reside in the Mountain and Southern counties, the selected cities represent those regions.
Normal and experienced rainfall and temperature for Elkins (Mountain Region) and Beckley and Bluefield (Southern Region).
The Mountain Region experienced a very mild May leading one to anticipate a wonderful recruitment year to go along with the abundant flowering plants which foretells abundant mast later in the year. However, June has been extremely wet and cooler than “normal”. In mid-June, when grouse chicks and turkey poults would be most abundant, we experienced two days of rain with temperatures in the 40s and low 50s, followed by consecutive days of rain events. Chicks have little fat reserves to counter days of poor foraging (insects hide during cool, wet periods) and when drenched succumb to hypothermia quickly.
In the northern portion of the Southern Region, rainfall and temperatures were more “normal” or even better than “normal” indicating that chicks and poults may actually benefit from the weather conditions. In this region, given these circumstances we may see a good production year, only time will tell.
Brian Dhuey, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife surveys database manager provided the statewide ruffed grouse drumming survey. The abstract indicates, “Statewide ruffed grouse population indices decreased 2.4 percent between 2014 and 2015, based on the number of drumming grouse heard during roadside surveys. Changes in indices to breeding grouse populations varied by region, and the statewide mean number of drums/stop was not significant (P= 0.92) from 2014 to 2015. Drummer densities on the Sandhill Wildlife Area in Wood County showed an increase of 33%, while the Oneida County Stone Lake area drummer density counts were discontinued in 2015.”
Additional information from the report follows:
The total number of routes used in estimating a statewide ruffed grouse drumming index in 2015 was 117. This is the maximum available and the same number of routes used in 2014.
Statewide, ruffed grouse population indices decreased between 2014 and 2015 (Table 1). This is the fourth decrease in the ruffed grouse indices since 2011. Survey indices show a decrease in drumming grouse in two of the four regions of the state (Fig. 1-6). Note: any missing figures or tables can be found in the complete survey pdf. Statewide, overall changes in results were not significant (P= 0.92) between 2014 and 2015. Transects completed in both 2014 and 2015 were compared to detect population changes. Transects were considered to have “changed” from last year if the change was greater than two drums per transect. The number of transects with decreased drumming outnumbered by 28 to 18 those that showed increases, with 71 transects unchanged.
Breeding grouse and grouse brood production were up during the spring and summer of 2014. Despite this increase in brood production in 2014, Wisconsin experienced a decline in breeding grouse numbers in 2015. Wisconsin’s primary grouse range, the Central and Northern Forest regions, showed mixed results. The Central Forest had an increase in breeding grouse of 38 percent this spring, while the Northern Forest had a small decrease of 2.4 percent. Wisconsin is well past the peak in the grouse cycle and appears to have settled into the bottom of the cycle; it is likely that declines in breeding grouse numbers will continue for a year or two more until we start to see numbers go up till the next grouse high.
Spring conditions were more normal in the spring of 2015 compared to 2013 and 2014 as it related to the drumming survey period.
Grouse numbers on the Sandhill Wildlife Area were up in 2015 (Table 2). Sandhill Wildlife Area increased 33 percent (61 vs. 46 birds in 2014) while the central region of the state showed an increase of 38 percent in drumming activity on the roadside survey. The un-hunted portion of the wildlife area (1,300 acres) increased by seven birds in 2015 (20 vs. 13 in 2014). The hunted portion of the wildlife area (2,020 acres) had an increase in breeding grouse, with 41 birds counted in 2015, up from 33 in 2014. The survey technique used to measure grouse densities on this area is different than that used on the statewide survey. Any comparison of these results to statewide totals should be done cautiously.
Table 1. Ruffed Grouse drumming results 2014-2015, drums per stop (routes run), % change,
and number of routes with a change of greater than 2 drums per route from 2014 levels.
Figure 2. Statewide mean number of drums/stop on ruffed grouse drumming routes, 1964-2015.
Figure 3. Central Forest mean number of drums/stop on ruffed grouse drumming routes, 1964-2015.
Figure 4. Northern Forest mean number of drums/stop on ruffed grouse drumming routes, 1964-2015.
For complete details and graphs for the SW and SE regions, read the Wisconsin Drumming Survey for 2015 pdf.
American Woodcock Singing-ground Survey data for 2015 indicate that the index for singing American woodcock males in the Central Management Region was not significantly different from 2014, with Wisconsin up 16.65 percent. The 10-year trend in the Central Management Region was not significant after showing a decline last year, with Wisconsin showing a non-significant decrease (-0.21 percent). The region has a significant, long-term (1968-15) declining trend (-0.7 percent/year), with Wisconsin showing a non-significant decrease (-0.34 percent). The 2014 recruitment index for the U.S. portion of the Central Region (1.39 immatures per adult female) was 9.6 percent less than the 2013 index and was 10.6 percent less than the long-term regional index. Estimates from the Harvest Information Program indicated that approximately 16,200 Wisconsin woodcock hunters spent 66,400 days afield and harvested 49,300 woodcock. Given the foregoing information, the population should be similar to 2014.
Please reference the complete American Woodcock: Population Status, 2015 report for complete details.
Photo by Andy Weik
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
The Maritime Provinces experienced a uniformly cold winter with plenty of snow which afforded excellent opportunity for grouse to snow roost and thus lay low from predators and conserve energy, so grouse likely came into the breeding season in good number. The word from the woods so far, at least in New Brunswick, has been very positive for grouse broods.
The woodcock singing-ground survey showed declines in woodcock numbers from last year in these provinces. The outlook for woodcock this fall will depend on the proportion of adults that nested; spring was delayed, but once it came conditions were favorable.
*References to season dates or regulations are as provided by our correspondents and should be verified on that state or province’s official website or published materials.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service American Woodcock: Population Status, 2015 report
For more specific information about American woodcock population statistics, read the American Woodcock: Population Status 2015 report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – download HERE.