Hunters encouraged to submit spruce grouse feathers for genetics study

Spruce grouse hunters in northern Minnesota’s boreal forests can voluntarily submit samples for the final year of a genetics research project being conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in partnership with the University of Minnesota.
Spruce grouse are a climate-sensitive species that rely on boreal forest habitats containing black spruce, jack pine and tamarack – all of which are expected to shift northward on the landscape as temperatures increase. This study will use grouse genetics to form a baseline of data to establish how spruce grouse currently use the landscape and identify changes in habitat connectivity over time. When habitat becomes fragmented and a species loses connectivity to its former range, the species can form smaller distinct genetic groups over time.
“Hunters who enjoy pursuing these birds are critical to the success of this project and our work to conserve this species,” said DNR grouse research scientist, Charlotte Roy. “Data collection for this project is simple and we hope to receive another 100 to 150 samples in this final year of the two-year project.”
Hunters who would like to assist with the project should collect three to five large wing or tail feathers along with the GPS coordinates of the harvest location. The feathers, GPS coordinates and the hunter’s name and telephone number can be mailed to: Grouse Research, DNR Regional Headquarters, 1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744. Harvest locations will not be made public. Hunters are asked to mail samples from each bird in a separate envelope and not mix feather samples from multiple birds.
This research project is funded by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) with dollars from the Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund. Last year, 111 individual samples were submitted.
Small game harvest surveys show hunters have harvested anywhere from 7,081 – 19,130 spruce grouse annually over the last 11 years. More information about spruce grouse management can be found on the DNR website.