The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are working together to help restore Missouri’s ruffed grouse population. MDC’s plan is to trap and relocate 300 grouse from northern Wisconsin to the River Hills region of east-central Missouri over a three-year period (2018-2020).
The goal is to trap and relocate 100 grouse a year to Missouri. MDC worked with Wisconsin DNR staff to conduct trapping efforts in Wisconsin from Aug. 15-Sept. 15 with 100 grouse relocated to Missouri to complete this year’s efforts.
“This year’s grouse restoration effort went very well,” said MDC Resource Scientist Jason Isabelle. “Between constructing, setting and running traps, processing, transporting and releasing birds, managing habitat, and all the logistics involved with a project like this, it was truly a team effort that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of many dedicated individuals.”
Ruffed grouse are a native species in Missouri, but numbers have declined over the last several decades as forests have aged. Grouse require extensive areas of young forest habitat to survive. Without the cover that these areas provide, grouse simply can’t thrive on the landscape.
Extensive habitat management has been conducted in the River Hills region of east-central Missouri to maximize success for grouse restoration. Ongoing habitat management will continue to make sure grouse are in an environment that they can thrive in.
“The River Hills region was a former strong-hold for the ruffed grouse,” Isabelle said.
Efforts to create young forest habitat within the region have been ongoing for many years now. Isabelle notes that these efforts must continue if grouse are to thrive in Missouri.
“Our agency will continue to create habitat for grouse on public lands within the region and will work with landowners and partners to do so on private lands as well,” he said.
In return for the ruffed grouse, MDC will be making a donation to Wisconsin DNR that will be used to create habitat for grouse in the areas where trapping is taking place. This work will benefit grouse and other wildlife species that depend on young forests to survive.
“Strong partnerships are critical to keep conservation thriving and moving forward,” MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley said. “We value this long-standing partnership with Wisconsin DNR and are grateful for their willingness to provide grouse for our ongoing restoration efforts here in Missouri. Without their support, this effort wouldn’t be possible.”
Translocation of wildlife between states is commonly used to establish or bolster wildlife populations. MDC and Wisconsin DNR are continuing a partnership that dates back decades when MDC provided Wisconsin with turkeys to reestablish their now thriving population.