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PIERRE, S.D.—With the prairie grouse season set to begin on Sept. 20, biologists with the S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department are asking hunters for their cooperation in providing biological data that is valuable in estimating prairie grouse production.

Sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie chicken populations in South Dakota are monitored using data collected from spring lek surveys, hunter harvest surveys and wing collections from hunters. Spring lek surveys provide an indication of the breeding population, hunter harvest surveys give an estimation of the number of hunters and birds harvested while the wing collections allow biologists to determine the age ratio of harvested birds.

“Unlike pheasants that are easily counted during roadside surveys, determining the reproduction of grouse and providing a fall forecast to hunters is not as easy,” according to GFP Senior Upland Game Biologist Chad Switzer of Huron.

GFP is working closely with other agencies and nonprofit organizations that have land available to the public that supports viable grouse populations and have a history of traditional grouse hunters. Grouse wing collection boxes will be placed at locations along roadsides, parking areas or local businesses that are conveniently located for hunters. Grouse hunters are being asked to voluntarily submit a wing from each grouse harvested at these wing collection boxes.

“The objective is to develop a grouse model for South Dakota to more accurately monitor trends in the prairie grouse population and to improve upon our fall population forecast,” said Switzer. The model will initially include long-term wing collection data from the Fort Pierre National Grasslands along with different weather variables obtained from local weather stations.

Data collected from the Grand River and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands and on public land in McPherson County will be incorporated in the future to provide regional grouse forecasts. Grouse hunters are reminded to only submit wings from grouse harvested in these respective areas.

To view the locations of the wing box collection sites and to learn more about prairie grouse season information and management, visit http://www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife\hunting\PRGrouse\GrouseWingBoxes.htm. Hunters can also view the collection sites by using the interactive mapping tool found at http://www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife/PublicLands/PubLand.htm.

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