Thursday, May 03, 2007

Ruffed Grouse Restoration in Iowa

Found nearly Statewide in the mid-1880s, deforestation and grazing of timber caused a dramatic decline of Ruffed Grouse populations, leading to their disappearance from southwest Iowa by 1900 and further population declines in the southern and east-central portions of the State by 1920. Grouse were restricted to their present range in the northeastern-most six counties by 1930.

This report (.pdf) documents in detail the releases of a total of 1,354 birds at 30 sites in 16 Iowa Counties in 15 different years, 1962-1999. The released birds had been live-trapped in four States (Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) and northeastern Iowa.

The report concludes (excerpt):
Unfortunately, it may be futile to continue to attempt to re-establish grouse in southern and southeastern Iowa since the conditions that caused initial declines of grouse populations still exist and may actually be becoming more unfavorable. . . . additional releases can not be justified.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 2002 (October). Ruffed Grouse restoration. Pp. 160-167 in Trends in Iowa wildlife populations and harvest 2001. Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Conservation and Recreation Division.

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