- Ruffed Grouse
- Sharp-Tailed Grouse
East central season closed
Minnesota’s sharp-tailed grouse population has declined significantly in the east-central prompting the DNR to close the hunting season in the east-central zone.
Work will continue with the Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society to explore habitat management options.
Sharp-tailed grouse habitat changes are driven by brushlands becoming forest, conversion to other land uses and less fire and other large-scale disturbances on the landscape that historically created and maintained the large open areas of grassland and brushland.
Closing the season is difficult but imperative. Sharp-tailed grouse in the area currently exist in association with limited and disjunct habitats where harvest of even a few birds could seriously impact sustainability and genetic diversity within these isolated populations.
Hunters needed to collect feathers for DNA sampling
Why are sharp-tailed grouse expanding into the northern part of Minnesota’s prairie-chicken range? Is it changes in habitat, behavior or both?
Upland bird hunters can help Minnesota and North Dakota wildlife researchers in a newly launched study to help answer that question by submitting wing or tail feathers from birds they harvest this fall.
In northwestern Minnesota, prairie chicken booming grounds are disappearing, sharp-tailed grouse dancing grounds are increasing and interbreeding between the species seems to be increasing.
Interbreeding results in hybridization, which occurs when two different species mate and produce offspring that is a hybrid of both species. These prairie-chicken/sharptail hybrids are fertile and can breed with prairie chickens or sharptails, which can mix the gene pool of both species.
It is unclear whether sharptail expansion and hybridization is contributing to prairie chicken declines through production of hybrid offspring; if the observed changes are driven by increasing woody encroachment of grasslands; or whether both factors could be at play.
Researchers are asking each hunter to pluck – not cut – five to 10 large wing or tail feathers from each harvested prairie chicken, hybrid or sharp-tailed grouse. Please do not mix feathers from different birds together.
Feathers from each individual bird must be in a separate paper envelope. Each envelope containing an individual bird's feathers must be labeled with the county of harvest. The separate envelopes can be grouped together and mailed to:Grouse Research
DNR Regional Headquarters
1201 E Highway 2
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Researchers will extract DNA from the bottom of the feather where it received blood from the bird. These genetic samples will help biologists better understand the extent to which hybridization is currently occurring across the landscape.
Our goal is to inform prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse management so that both species can persist.
Reports & surveys
- Spruce Grouse
- Hungarian Partridge
Report archive: Grouse reports & statistics