VTF&W asks hunters for help in grouse research

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MONTPELIER — The ruffed grouse is an iconic game bird of Vermont that is widely recognized and enjoyed by hunters and non-hunters alike, but wildlife biologists are concerned that grouse populations across the Northeast have declined over the past 30 years.

This trend has prompted ruffed grouse research on potential causes, including emerging disease threats and habitat loss. Recently, West Nile Virus has been implicated as a significant contributor to population declines in Pennsylvania.

Vermont is set to participate in a multi-state research project to determine the distribution, prevalence and potential impact of West Nile Virus on ruffed grouse across their range in North America.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department needs grouse hunters to collect blood and feather samples from the ruffed grouse they harvest during the hunting season in Vermont. A kit with instructions, sampling supplies and necessary mailers will be provided to participating hunters, making the sampling collection quick and simple.

If you are interested in helping with this important conservation effort please contact State Wildlife Biologist Chris Bernier at 802-289-0628 or chris.bernier@vermont.gov.

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