Is PA Getting Serious About Ruffies?

July 6, 2011 | By | 7 Replies More

This bird looks Serious....

The ruffed grouse is Pennsylvania’s state bird, PA has lots of ruffies and the state is home to Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) HQ. And yet, as in many states, Pennsylvania bird hunters feel that ruffies haven’t gotten much attention in Pennsylvania.

Is the state now out to change that?

The state is seeking input on a draft ruffie plan (here’s the pdf), highlights of which are below. And PA residents you can now buy a license plate with a ruffie on it, some of the revenue from which goes to the RGS – more on that at bottom.

Highlights from the plan:

> This PA plan supports the 2008 Ruffed Grouse Conservation Plan, a North American plan developed by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Resident Game Bird Working Group that provides a comparison of ruffed grouse habitat conditions and populations between 1980 and 2005.

> Forest inventory data were used to ascertain ruffed grouse population deficits between 1980 and 2007. Pennsylvania has lost over 29,000 breeding male grouse in that time. Because grouse population densities are strongly dependent on the proportion of young forests on the landscape, the plan documents the overall annual acreage treatments required to restore grouse populations to near 1980 levels by 2025 – the objective of the national Ruffed Grouse Conservation Plan.

> To support the desired population increase, the PA plan includes a habitat objective of having approximately 2,750,000 acres (1,100,000 ha) of early-successional habitat by spring of 2020. To achieve this objective, this plan calls for increasing the proportion of  PA’s forest comprised of young age classes from 11.6% to 17.3%.


> Calvin DuBrock, PA Bureau of Wildlife Management director, said: “As written, the plan is science-based, progressive and promotes responsible management of ruffed grouse. We’re interested in hearing from Pennsylvanians who would like to offer comments, and to see if we’ve missed something or if they share our management vision for the future.”

> Public comments on the agency’s ruffed grouse management plan will be accepted until Sept. 1, via the website or by mail to: Ruffed Grouse Management Plan, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.


The plan notes that each year, more than 100,000 hunters harvest 75,000-100,000 ruffed grouse, and that grouse hunting results in the direct spending of $79 million. Even though one grouse per hunter isn’t great, or even good, grouse are “of significant social and economic value as a game bird in Pennsylvania.”

So we think it’s good if PA can adopt this plan and get it done. Cutting to create young forest habitat is definitely important, and will for-sure help baseline numbers of grouse.

Only additions we’d like to see are:

> A consideration of disease, possibly occurring or emerging with changing/warmer weather patterns, particularly in the southern area of the state.

> In a perfect world we’d like to see regs changed to say that you can only shoot a ruffie either a) when it’s flying (probably would hit licenses too hard) or b) only with a shotgun, to prevent deer hunters from taking pot shots from treestands.

Grouse Plate

Check out the new RGS grouse plate available to PA residents: Cool! Learn more here (pdf).


Category: PA, Ruffed Grouse, Ruffed Grouse Society

Comments (7)

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  1. sproulman says:

    grouse numbers in wmu2g,nc part of state are not very good.reason is habitat .this has been happening for 30 years on decline.
    now with all new bird hunters with dogs PRESSURE on what grouse are left is not good .
    back when i started hunting grouse you saw very few dogs.
    road hunters everyday put a big hurt on grouse.
    now we have more hawks and owls than evere before.oldtimers used to shoot them.
    dcnr needs to burn ground and open up the canopy to let in sun so things will grow.
    HUNTERS have got to stop cleaning out the areas of birds they hunt.
    overhunting,habitat ,wet springs,predators hurt grouse here in pa.
    pgc knows if wet spring is going to reduce the peeps ,they should stop season for that fall .


  2. sproulman says:

    you think some shoot grouse on GROUND, go hunting pheasants here in great state of pa and watch the a holes shooting pheasants on ground with 12 ga with no.4 shot at 20 yds.

  3. jim k says:

    here in clinton county grouse numbers are not very good.
    road hunting is just very bad,grouse cant get to roads for gravel without a road hunter to lack of very good habitat,what is here is OVERHUNTED.

    same with deer, hunters keeping killing off what is left of doe.they clean out areas and are now doing same for grouse.

    about time hunters start waking up or we will not have much to even see over next few years let alone hunt.

  4. William c LeMasters says:

    Ticks or tick vectored diseases are killing the grouse. 10 years ago ticks on our dogs were a rarity. Now a one hour run and the ticks are swarming the dogs. The birds live there 24/7. Please, some educated game biologist tell me otherwise.

  5. Rich L says:

    I agree with much of what is said. Year after year we keep hearing (much from the PGC) that grouse hunting is down a little. I flushed very very few out in the last 5 years. This isn’t down a “little”.

  6. Just wondering if anyone else noticed that with the increase in turkey population a decrease in grouse. As a boy growing up in Pa the turkey numbers seemed very low compared to today. We all have seen the way a flock of turkeys can scratch up a hillside in no time flat. If grouse happen to be nesting on that hillside say goodbye to the nest and all that is in it. Just my observation.

  7. Wink Windsor says:

    I think turkeys have had a drastic effect on grouse. But that is just an opinion, and it would be hard to ever get the fish and game people to admit they have brought about the decline of one species by introducing and restocking another. The decline of grouse in the Southern Appalachians coincides with the resurgence of turkey populations. Why would a turkey not eat the eggs or young of any ground nesting bird, they eat everything else? I’ve seen flocks in the mountains of turkey with 30 birds in them. The are like a vacuum cleaner, slowly working their way through the woods.
    They don’t turn their noses up at quail eggs either. Fish and game departments say they don’t eat quail.I know a man who owns a hunting preserve, primarily he hunts bear, deer and waterfowl but he has a few quail on his land. He killed two turkeys, in gutting them he found quail eggs in their stomach. He showed the remains to some people in our state wildlife dept. They just sort of shrugged because the official line is turkeys don’t impact quail.

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