Sage grouse wings needed
by Wyoming Game & Fish
September 19, 2011
With the opening of the sage grouse hunting season Saturday, September 17, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is urging all sage grouse hunters to drop one wing from any birds they harvest in one of the sage grouse wing barrels that have been placed at convenient locations in the field.
Wyoming Game and Fish biologists have placed the marked barrels at major access roads to popular hunting areas along U.S. Highways 189 and 191 in the Pinedale and Big Piney areas. Hunters are encouraged to deposit one wing from each grouse harvested in the barrel when leaving the field.
Biologists can tell the age and sex of the harvested birds from their wings, which is a valuable piece of information in determining reproduction rates and ultimately the population trend. Each year, in addition to the wing data, biologists count the number of male birds on spring strutting grounds, or leks, and then try to get a sample of brood counts after the chicks have hatched. Together, these data provide wildlife managers a pretty good picture of the population trend.
"The wing data from harvested birds is especially valuable in a wet year like we had this spring, where birds are more spread out across the landscape and it’s harder to get a good sample on the broods," says Dean Clause, Pinedale Wildlife Biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "We really appreciate the cooperation we’ve gotten from sage grouse hunters in past years and hope it continues."
Clause says that while the number of male birds on leks this spring was down a bit from last year, he predicts good hunting, similar to last year.