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DEC Seeking Assistance from Ruffed Grouse Hunters

Steve D

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For the past three seasons, DEC has requested hunters submit feathers and blood samples from harvested grouse. Feathers submitted by grouse hunters provided the first data on grouse recruitment (juveniles/adult female) in several decades. Blood samples have provided information on “West Nile Virus seroprevalence” – the percentage of birds that contracted WNV but survived to the hunting season. Seroprevalence has ranged from 13-21 percent in NY and 2-17 percent in the 11 other states in the study. Further research is planned to better understand what those rates mean and grouse vulnerability to WNV in different parts of NY.

We are requesting that hunters continue to submit blood samples and rump, wing, and tail feathers from birds taken during the season. For more information, visit the Ruffed Grouse Hunting page. To request instructions and supplies, call 518-402-8929 or e-mail [email protected] (subject “Ruffed Grouse Parts Collection”).

Hunt in the Northern Zone? Look Out for Spruce Grouse!

If you hunt in the Northern Zone, be mindful of the presence of state-endangered Spruce Grouse while hunting Ruffed Grouse in Wildlife Management Units 5C, 5F, 6F, and 6J. Identify your target before you shoot!

Graphic titled Don't Shoot showing physical identifying characteristics of Spruce GrouseDEC biologists have supplemented existing populations of Spruce Grouse in New York to increase genetic diversity and help aid in the recovery of the State’s population. The Spruce Grouse is a state-endangered bird and tend to occur in forested evergreen wetlands, but may venture into deciduous forests, especially during the hunting season. Spruce Grouse are frequently seen along roadsides during the fall eating gravel. Spruce Grouse are similar in size to Ruffed Grouse, but have slightly different appearances:

  • Graphic titled Can Shoot showing physical identifying characteristics of Ruffed GrouseBoth male and female Spruce Grouse have a chestnut-colored tail band on a blackish tail that contrasts with the Ruffed Grouse’s dark tail band on a brown or gray tail.
  • Spruce Grouse tend to sit still or fly to a nearby branch when disturbed unless disturbed by dogs, in which case they may fly away.
  • Male Spruce Grouse appear darker than females and have a red eye comb that can be seen only during the breeding season (May).
  • Female Spruce Grouse are very similar in appearance to Ruffed Grouse in size and coloration. Differences in the tail band are evident between the two species (see image).
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