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The North American Grouse Management Plan: A Prospectus

Category: Wildlife Research and Management - Game Management and Conservation

Date Published: March 12, 2004

Number of Pages: 39

The North American Grouse Management Plan is a cooperative effort among public agencies, private organizations and individuals to conserve, restore and enhance the habitats necessary to support self-sustaining and harvestable populations of grouse throughout North America.


Grouse, perhaps more than any other assemblage of birds, are icons of North America’s wild and vast landscapes. They are part of the cultural heritage of Native Americans who emulated grouse breeding rituals in traditional dances and incorporated grouse feathers in clothing. These birds were an important food source for Native Americans as well as early pioneers and are still regarded as prized game birds by millions of hunters. In recent years, the public is increasingly interested in viewing the elaborate and spectacular courtship displays of the many species of native grouse.

One of the earliest laws to manage wildlife populations in North America was enacted in 1791 to protect the heath hen (an eastern prairie grouse) from excessive market hunting. However, efforts to save the heath hen ultimately failed in 1932 when the last bird disappeared from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Today, the Attwater’s prairie-chicken in Texas is on the brink of extinction, a reminder of the fate of the heath hen. Other grouse species are experiencing significant declines and face an uncertain future. These declines are associated with numerous factors including the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of native habitats.

Grouse depend on high quality habitats distributed across broad landscapes. Because of the large areas required, they are dependent on both publicly- and privately-owned land in both the United States and Canada. Regardless of ownership, habitat quality largely is determined by privately driven activities including grazing, mining, logging, and recreation. Therefore, successful efforts to manage and conserve North American grouse must be integrated with the needs of individuals and groups that depend on the land’s resources.

The North American Grouse Management Plan is a partnership among public agencies, private organizations, and individuals to conserve, restore and enhance the habitats necessary to support self-sustaining populations of grouse throughout North America. This plan establishes a vision for the future of grouse as well as a framework for conservation and management action. It is written to help focus resources on the habitats necessary for the survival and restoration of grouse populations. Because the landscapes used by grouse are among the most ecologically imperiled, addressing the management needs of grouse also will benefit assemblages of wildlife dependent on similar habitats.

The North American Grouse Management Plan represents the first effort to develop a cooperative management strategy for all grouse in North America. It is designed to aid local and/or species-specific planning efforts by providing a comprehensive framework for international and inter-agency cooperation. By providing a vision for grouse restoration, management, and research, we believe this effort will ensure that the remaining grouse in North America will not only survive but also will flourish in perpetuity.

Suggested Citation:
Schroeder, M. A., R. K. Baydack, S. A. Harmon, C. A. Hagen, D. M. Davis, S. K. Sherrod, S. DeMaso, R. W. Hoffman, T. Z. Riley, J. B. Haufler, and R. R. Manes. 2004. North American grouse management plan. North American Grouse Partnership, Williamsport, Maryland.