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Ruffed Grouse

*Pennsylvania State Bird*

Scientific Name: Bonasa umbellus

What's New?

Are "tame" grouse really tame? Video (5:42)
Grouse Priority Siting Tool (G-PAST) - Public Version

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​​Grouse Priority Area Siting Tool 

Ruffed Grouse Season Setting Process - Responsive Management

The post-Christmas grouse season (hereafter “late season”) is well-loved by many grouse hunters. It is a time to be in the woods with few other people. Ticks are inactive and temperatures are just right for running the dogs. And a quiet, snowy covert makes a grouse flush all the more dramatic.

Unfortunately, recent declines in hunter flush rates and brood observations have warranted the closure of the late season since 2017. Future season-setting will beguided by a consistent and transparent process based on grouse abundance, summer sightings, and disease risk. This ‘responsive harvest framework’ recommends a reduce late season when grouse populations are low, then increasing late season length as populations improve.

Several states have shortened or closed their grouse season after grouse populations crashed. This framework represents an effort to proactively revise Pennsylvania’s season-setting process to respond to declines while we still have a functional statewide population.

Rationale: All measures used to track grouse populations have undergone steady declines since the statewide late season was established in the 1980s. Of more immediate concern, dramatic declines began in the early 2000s and continue to present. All indicators reveal signs of a population in distress:

  1. depressed hunter flush rates (grouse flushes per hour)
  2. declining July and August brood observations (an index of brood survival)
  3. dramatically decreased recruitment of juveniles into the adult population since the 1980s (i.e. very low juvenile per hen ratios in hunter-harvested birds and summer brood sightings)
  4. decreased proportion of juveniles in the winter harvest (Dec and Jan)
The goal of the Grouse Management Program is to support statewide population recovery. The PGC is limiting late season harvest in an attempt to carry more birds into the spring breeding population.

Species Status Update: Commission Meeting Jan. 2018 Presentation video
This presentation describes data and rationale leading to the recommendation of a 2018-19 statewide closure of the Grouse Late Season, and a description of the harvest framework that will guide season-setting in future – presented to Board of Game Commissioners on Jan. 29, 2018.



The Status of Ruffed Grouse; 2017 (award-winning video, 9:10)

How You Can Help

Plan Your Hunt

The DCNR Bureau of Forestry's online mapping tool shows locations of recent timber harvests (since 2005), young aspen, thermal cover, herbaceous openings and other features of interest to upland bird hunters. The map includes GPS and measurement tools to enable hunters to find the best routes to sites on State Forests.

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​Grouse Season Questions & Answers

Ruffed Grouse