MADISON, Wis. - In light of scientific data and concerns over population viability, there will be no sharp-tailed grouse hunting season this fall. With no permits available, no applications will be made available or accepted this year.
Each year, the Sharp-tailed Grouse Advisory Committee uses spring mating survey data to recommend permit levels for the sharp-tailed grouse hunting season to the department's Bureau of Wildlife Management leadership team. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, surveys were unable to be fully completed. Some data were gathered by partner groups, but the dataset for 2020 remains incomplete. The Sharp-tailed Grouse Advisory Committee consists of DNR wildlife biologists and representatives from interested conservation groups.
Without a complete 2020 survey of the sharp-tailed grouse population, the committee made its recommendation based on the spring 2019 survey results, the limited 2020 data that were available and a scientific population model, which showed the potential for a marked decrease in sharp-tailed grouse numbers. Permits were not issued in 2019, though permits were issued in three of the last five years.
Wisconsin has a strong, storied connection to sharp-tailed grouse hunting. Thanks to the passion and commitment of DNR's partners in conservation, work is ongoing to restore and manage the young forest and barrens habitats that sharp-tailed grouse depend upon for their survival.
As a result of the increased barrens habitat management activities occurring in recent years in northwest Wisconsin, there is great optimism that the population will respond positively to these efforts and Wisconsin will experience an increase in sharp-tailed grouse population data in future years.