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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Game bird brood production sees increase from 2014 levels

MADISON - The numbers are looking good for ruffed grouse, pheasant and wild turkey breeding and nesting conditions in Wisconsin this year, according to state wildlife officials who attribute it to more normal winter conditions for temperature and snowfall during the winter of 2014-15, combined with a slightly earlier-than-normal spring green-up.

Average temperature and precipitation during the month of June led to normal nesting and early brood-rearing conditions for Wisconsin's game bird species - this may have led to an increase in brood production for pheasants, ruffed grouse and wild turkey.

Wild turkey, ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting seasons opened last weekend while pheasant season begins Oct. 17.

"Brood production surveys for ruffed grouse, pheasants and turkeys were conducted during June, July and August by DNR staff as they went about their normal work duties," said Brian Dhuey, wildlife survey coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "These data are still preliminary and may change, but they can be used as an index to production and help to forecast fall hunting prospects."

According to Dhuey, while most of the winter was below normal for temperature and snowfall, a lack of heavy snow cover may have led to an early spring green-up. Timing of spring green-up can affect game bird survival and physical condition going into the breeding and nesting season and in turn effect brood survival.

Wisconsin's 2015 brood-rearing conditions were average for temperature, with much of the state seeing temperatures close to average for the month of June and average to slightly below average for July and August. Precipitation was close to normal, with no large or prolonged rain events followed by cold weather. Early June weather is the most critical for turkey, pheasant and grouse broods - this is when recently-hatched chicks are most susceptible to hypothermia if they get wet. Weather during July and August was excellent for brood-rearing and survival. 


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