Ruffed Grouse Society Commends Pennsylvania on its Ruffed Grouse Management Plan
Coraopolis, PA –-(Ammoland.com)- The Ruffed Grouse Society commends the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) for its initiative to develop an individualized Ruffed Grouse Management Plan as defined in the National Action Plan of 2008.
“As the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage, the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) supports the PGC efforts to implement the National Plan for the conservation of this species, and offers its assistance in establishing the presence of the early successional habitat (ESH) component back to historic levels within the landscape for the benefit of ruffed grouse and all Pennsylvania wildlife,” said Mike Zagata, RGS President and CEO. “This is a step in the right direction, a step we urge other states follow.”
“However, we implore the PGC to establish a scientific based method to determine ruffed grouse population status rather than relying on various surveys and other trend analysis data. Using the current hunter flush rates is not always reliable as hunters generally go to the best covers. As a result, over-estimation of grouse numbers could lead to an inaccurate representation of the population status within the state. The PGC and the Pennsylvania sportsmen and women need reliable data in order to set harvest limits and season length and they need to know if they’re making progress towards their goal,” Zagata said. Adding that ruffed grouse hunting in Pennsylvania is a source of both social and economic significance in this state.
“Grouse hunting alone contributes to approximately $79 million of direct spending each year to the Pennsylvania economy. That number increases dramatically when all of the species that will benefit from this Plan are included. Much of this revenue is directed towards small businesses, especially in rural Pennsylvania. Continual decline in optimal habitat will adversely affect these businesses, and the social and cultural tradition of the grouse hunting heritage of both the Pennsylvania residents and those traveling to the state for the hunting experience will suffer” Zagata continued.
RGS Regional Biologist Linda Ordiway echoed Zagata’s comments, adding that the PGC could strengthen its initiative by offering added incentives to private landowners who actively manage their forested stands. Doing so will help create a mosaic design of forest age classes from brush to mature stands and therefore enhance wildlife diversity.
“Currently state and federal programs are available to landowners who manage their lands for timber and native grasslands, but not for the maintenance of the young forest habitat characteristics (high stem density). The history of removing only the high-value trees, known as high-grading, has resulted in many acres that would benefit from such incentive programs,” Ordiway said.
“ESH is not only essential to ruffed grouse and woodcock, but for other wildlife species, both hunted and non-hunted, during all seasons and multiple phases of their life stages. It benefits small and large hunted species and is important to license sales and the social aspect of the Pennsylvania hunting tradition. ESH also provides wildlife viewing areas for both hunter and non-hunter use of Pennsylvania’s rural areas. Reviving the balance of ESH within the landscape affords PA the opportunity to showcase one of its greatest resources, its wildlife, and increase tourism and the dollars that flow from it within these rural areas,” said Ordiway.
More information on RGS, its mission, management projects and membership is available on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/.