DEC Wildlife Staff is involved in a spruce grouse translocation project to help boost numbers of the state-endangered spruce grouse and to improve genetic diversity of the remaining population in New York.
To meet the goal of maintaining their population in NY over the next 100 years, wildlife staff believe they will need to release 250 adult individuals from outside populations into NY over the next five years and manage habitat at several sites.
To meet the translocation objective, staff released 34 adult spruce grouse and 71 young in 2018 and 50 adults and 111 young in 2019. Staff have been maintaining locations on grouse using radio telemetry at least once per week since grouse were released this past August. After release, spruce grouse have been observed moving within and between lowland boreal forests (their habitat). They have also been observed “flocking up” with resident spruce grouse, a behavior that resident NY spruce grouse also do in the fall.
Most of the females released in 2018 that survived until the 2019 breeding season attempted to nest and some reared young in 2019. Approximately half of released grouse lived to breed the following year, which is slightly below the average for resident grouse.
DEC urges folks to be aware of the presence of spruce grouse in the northern Adirondacks when driving on dirt roads from as far west as Cranberry Lake to as far east as Bloomingdale. Spruce grouse can congregate in small numbers on roads to eat gravel and may be mistaken for ruffed grouse during the hunting season.
Photos, from above: researcher capturing a spruce grouse; and spruce grouse in transit by Angelena Ross