Ruffed Grouse in Georgia

Acoustic Recording Device

Ruffed Grouse populations have declined in the Appalachian Mountains largely due to landscape-scale changes in forest management. The southernmost extent of the Ruffed Grouse range occurs in northern Georgia where the species is valued for its cultural significance. In spite of their importance as one of Georgia’s most charismatic upland gamebird species, the current distribution and abundance of grouse in Georgia is unknown. Moreover, little is known about the effects of recent management actions, especially prescribed burning, on grouse abundance and distribution. Efforts by Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division to monitor grouse populations via spring drumming surveys have proven to be ineffective and were recently abandoned.

We are using a mixture of techniques to survey Ruffed Grouse, including the use of Automated Recording Units (ARUs) and standard roadside drumming surveys. This research will provide GA DNR with cost-effective, reliable estimates of the current status and distribution of Ruffed Grouse, and to assess the effectiveness of recent forest management actions. The ultimate goal of the research is to provide recommendations for increasing the grouse population and thereby increase sustainable hunting opportunities in Georgia. Our objectives are to:

  • Estimate Ruffed Grouse abundance in Georgia and produce a distribution map indicating where density is greatest.
  • Design a monitoring protocol that optimizes effort (e.g., person-days) and precision.
  • Conduct surveys to estimate occupancy rates, density, and population size using a combination of song meters and traditional survey methods.