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Drumming Grouse Increasing Across Wisconsin

Drumming Grouse Increasing Across Wisconsin

July 8, 2024 11:09 AM CDT

By: Brittney Merlot

MADISON, Wis. (CIVIC MEDIA) – The state’s ruffed grouse survey shows a jump in drumming grouse since last year, with an anticipated peak expected soon.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources released the results of its annual Roadside Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey. The survey measured ruffed grouse drumming activity heard along roadsides throughout Wisconsin this spring. It showed a 57% increase in statewide drumming activity compared to 2023.

“The late spring and summer of 2023 were abnormally dry, which resulted in prime nesting and brooding conditions for ruffed grouse. This is likely the most influential factor explaining the increase in the number of drumming grouse this year,” said Alaina Roth, DNR ruffed grouse specialist. “We are also likely entering the ‘up’ phase of our 10-year population cycle, which may be an influencing factor, too.”

Ruffed grouse typically follow a 10-year population cycle, with peaks occurring in years that end in 0, 1 or 9. The surveys indicate ruffed grouse in Wisconsin are starting to enter the more populous phase of the abundance cycle. The next peak is anticipated to occur in 2029, 2030 or 2031.

Data is not available for 2020, so it’ is unknown so it’s not clear whether 2019 or 2020 was the high point in the cycle, but drumming numbers appeared to wane in the years immediately following 2020.

Since 2021, survey data has been organized and analyzed by ruffed grouse priority areas to help monitor key populations across the state, as defined in the Wisconsin Ruffed Grouse Management Plan 2020-2030.

The 2024 survey results for priority areas compared to 2023 showed:

  • A 41% increase in drumming in the Central priority area.
  • A 60% increase in drumming in the Northern priority area.
  • A 56% decrease in drumming in the Driftless priority area.

For complete survey results, visit the DNR’s Wisconsin Wildlife Reports webpage.

For more information regarding grouse hunting or managing habitat for ruffed grouse in Wisconsin, visit the DNR’s Ruffed Grouse Hunting webpage.

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