Increased Harvest and Better Production of Prairie Grouse on the Fort Pierre National Grassland

Prairie grouse hunters on the Fort Pierre National Grassland in central South Dakota are providing researchers with information about the current bird population.

According to the National Park Service, hunters donated wings from sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie-chickens so biologists could assess juvenile to adult ratios. The ratio provides an index to the success or failure of the recently completed nesting season.

Results from the first three weeks of this year’s hunting season showed an overall juvenile to adult ratio of 2.2 to 1, an improvement over the 1 to 1 ratio in 2017. The average juvenile to adult ratio between 1992 and 2018 was 2.0 juvenile birds harvested for each adult bird harvested.

The juvenile to adult ratio analysis was based on a sample of 650 wings this year, compared to last year’s final sample of 364 wings and a long-term average of 596. Greater prairie-chickens accounted for 70 percent of the birds shot in 2018, compared to 71 percent in 2017 and the long-term (1992-2018) average of 67 percent.