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Discussion Starter #1
Read about in interesting study last weekend at the cabin.

In the 1930's researchers wanted to find the affect of avian predators on grouse, with no telemetry they decide to kill hawks and examine their stomachs. Over 13 years, 2817 hawks were kill and stomachs examined. Only 89 hawks had remnants of grouse in their stomachs. Goshawks, sharp-shinned, and coopers hawks were the only species that were found feeding on grouse. With very few goshawks in Pa, seems that hawks take very few grouse in Pa. Havent found a study on owls, I would consider them the biggest avian predator of grouse.

NY did a different study on predators and grouse. One area all predators were killed, the next area they were selectively thinned, and the other area was left alone. At the end of the study, there was little difference in grouse numbers, in fact, the area where predators were eliminated, the grouse numbers were actually lower.

Also interesting, grouse are easier for avian predators in roosting in sparse pines than in deciduous trees. Apparently their silhouette is easy to see against green needles than against the bark of an oak or cherry tree.

Will predators take game birds/animals, absolutely, but they arent holding back the populations. Predators are out for the easiest kill, which is usually rodents of some sort. Now if they happen to find a grouse or rabbit hanging around for an easy kill, of course they will take it.
 

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No surprise there. I think is a myth ( well believed) that hawks and owl are killing all the small game in Pa. I still believe mice, voles, chipmunks and songbirds are the primary target of avian predators.

I did watch a hawk ( unsure of the specie) kill a grouse many years ago while hunting them in an old strip cut near Portersville in Butler County. I was on a high wall and saw a hawk dive straight down into the cut. I dropped down into the pines and watched the hawk fly away. I found a grouse, still fluttering, in the snow.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Last weekend I had a hen ready to give me a real *** whoopin if I got any closer to her chicks, and they had already flown away from me. Few minutes later I could hear her calling them back into safety.
 

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Glad the gobblers don't do that. They could put a hurtin on you!:oops:
I had an incident report back about twenty years ago of a gobbler chasing people out of the woods during the spring. I went to investigate and ended up talking to the lady doing the complaining about the gobbler attacking and chasing her kids.

I walked a ways out some ATV trails behind the house but never saw anything of the gobbler. When I got back to the house and reported I hadn't seen anything she asked me to wait there as her son went for a ride on his ATV. In just a few minutes the kid came racing back out of the woods with a big turkey gobbler in hot pursuit.

She wanted to know what I was going to do about him. I laughed and told her to stop using the trails for a few weeks and the problem would probably solve its self.

Secretly I left there hoping he bred every hen around and all of the young turned out just like him.

Dick Bodenhorn
 

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And here I was thinking there weren't any avian predators back then. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
There was no WNV in the upland grouse covers last year, yet there were very few grouse broods, what happened to them.

Stay tuned to what we are spoon fed this year!!!
 

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There was no WNV in the upland grouse covers last year, yet there were very few grouse broods, what happened to them.

Stay tuned to what we are spoon fed this year!!!
What are you based the comment of no west nile in the grouse covers last year on?

Dick Bodenhorn
 

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LW's comments in her yearly grouse letter, and looking at the statewide stats where WNV was found.
I'll have to try to find Lisa's comments on the subject.

Just going by hunter harvested grouse blood test samples might not tell the whole story if the sample size was low for any given area.

As for the statewide stats on WNV testing there are many areas of the state were the amount of testing is so low it is unlikely they will find it even if the occurrence of it in the mosquito population is high. The state testing is highest around the largest human population areas of the state and very low in areas of the state that don't have a lot of people.

Dick Bodenhorn
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Still looking?
Results from 2018 when WNV was at an all time high
2018 Results

And 2019 results
2019 Results

Looking at the 2018 results you can see all counties are tested and all dropped drastically in 2019. Take note of Centre county where LW did her study in 2017 at the Scotia Barrens and declared WNV mosquitoes are deep in our grouse covers; 90 positives in 2018 and only 2 in 2019, and Centre gets tested heavily. Almost all major grouse counties showed positive tests in 2018 and nothing in 2019. It isnt a matter of not testing, it comes down to WNV was only found in moderate to high density population centers in 2019 and no where else.
 

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Still looking?
Results from 2018 when WNV was at an all time high
2018 Results

And 2019 results
2019 Results

Looking at the 2018 results you can see all counties are tested and all dropped drastically in 2019. Take note of Centre county where LW did her study in 2017 at the Scotia Barrens and declared WNV mosquitoes are deep in our grouse covers; 90 positives in 2018 and only 2 in 2019, and Centre gets tested heavily. Almost all major grouse counties showed positive tests in 2018 and nothing in 2019. It isnt a matter of not testing, it comes down to WNV was only found in moderate to high density population centers in 2019 and no where else.
Thanks for the yearly links.

But without also knowing the number of tests conducted and mosquito collection sites being monitored or mosquito samples it doesn't tell us much. In the places where the mosquito testing samples changed from one year to the next the prevalence or percentage of change is simply unknown. I notice a number of counties, including Elk, don't even have a county coordinator so it is unlikely they get any mosquito monitoring from those counties.

As an example they should all have the number of samples along with the positives as they are doing for 2020. This link also shows that some counties have no monitoring or samples being collected and tested.

http://files.dep.state.pa.us/Water/WNV/2020 WNV Collection and Testing Status.pdf

Dick Bodenhorn
 

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I agree with LostAgain and R.S.B. on this one. I agree that 2019 seems to have been a low year for WNV. I also agree that testing and monitoring, particularly in rural counties is probably inadequate to draw solid conclusions.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
From LW and her grouse newsletter
Finally, 2019 has seen a break in WNV, with virus activity lowest since 2009. Are there enough grouse out there to take full advantage of this lucky break? Only time will tell.
Also from the same newsletter
To achieve a more balanced distribution of age classes on Game Land forests, the PGC now recognizes that harvests must be increased to about 13,500 acres per year. This is a significant increase from harvest levels of the last 20+ years when average timber harvests hovered around 6,000 acres per year.
In recognition of this, and even with the challenging weather conditions and volatile timber markets of 2018, the PGC forestry program has increased outputs and managed to hit 12,000 acres harvested in 2018.
And in 2019 the GC fell back to 8000 acres timbered.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
More thoughts on WNV and those who say not enough sampling is done in some counties. Most WNV mosquitoes are considered container breeders; tires, puddles, etc. So far in 2020, only 4% of mosquitoes collected in the state are sampled, as only certain mosquitoes carry WNV. Of the major grouse counties, only Elk has not had any mosquitoes collected and tested. So while many counties dont have a coordinator(why would you pay for someone with little to do), those counties do get sampled.

Also interesting are the positive avian positives which is a good indicator; if other avian species werent hit with WNV in 2019, what would make anyone think the same lack of positive samples would be different for grouse?

2017 - 42
2018 - 100
2019 - 6.
 

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From LW and her grouse newsletter


Also from the same newsletter

And in 2019 the GC fell back to 8000 acres timbered.
Going back a couple years now, but I thought I remembered reading that there was a plan to use the testing data to help determine the best places to timber and be more efficient. So that if they knew that above elevation x there weren't many WN positives - it would make more sense to timber those places to help the grouse, but if you were creating habitat in areas with high WN cases - it really wouldn't help much at all. I remember reading about it, but never heard anything further.
 
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