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Grouse count down, waterfowl unchanged

Minnesota is frequently the nation’s top ruffed grouse producer. But grouse run in cycles and last year was probably the peak in the 10-year population cycle. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released its spring drumming count figures from last year, and the number is down from 2009.
Ruffed grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the forest. Hunters harvest an average of 500,000 grouse yearly, making it the state’s most popular game bird.
The DNR says that even though the drum count is down this year, we’re still closer to the high end of the cycle rather than the low end.
On the other hand the DNR’s spring waterfowl survey shows the state’s breeding duck and goose populations statistically unchanged from last year. The breeding duck population stands at 531,000 and the goose population at 311,000.
According to the DNR, Minnesota’s waterfowl breeding population is influenced by the quality and quantity of the state’s wetlands as well as habitat in the surrounding states and Canadian provinces to the north and west.