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The GC isnt interested in quality habitat, if they were the deer herd would be reduced drastically and there would be a lot more clear cutting instead of shelterwood cuts to grow specific trees. Now we have people who want the GC to plant farm crops in the big woods for winter food instead of reducing the deer herd to what the habitat can support.

Michigan state forests have great information, not just on what they are cutting or recently cut but all the different stands within a management block even if they are 100 years old. First thing i search for is apple and hawthorn. Then i start looking at the description of each block in the age class in interested in. Pa habitat management is 50 years behind most other states.
It's not just the habitat management that's behind the times. I buy out of state licenses every year to hunt grouse and woodcock, usually in Michigan and Maine, sometimes in Minnesota. From the time I sit down at my computer and log into the DNR website in these states until my out of state license rolls out of my printer is normally about 5 or 6 minutes. Try buying your license hard copy on line in PA, you'll wait up to 10 days to get it.
 

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Bologna!!

The Game Commission is totally committed to creating and maintaining quality habitat.

But, unlike you and a few others who only care about the handful of species they prefer to hunt, they have to manage a WIDE VERIETY of different habitats so they have habitat for ALL wildlife species and populations.

That is actually their job and responsibility.

If they were to what you want, expect and demand they would have to change their name and mission statement to the the "Grouse and Woodcock Management Commission."

Fortunately they are not that small sighted in their wildlife management goals and objectives though and do manage all species.

Dick Bodenhorn
In my humble opinion, I'd say it's very generous to say that the Game Commission is managing for a "wide variety of different habitats for ALL wildlife species" when it comes to our SGL's, from what I see in Snyder/Union/Norry/Lycoming. I have 5 SGL's within 40 minutes of me, and spend a fair amount of time on them, and I've only encountered whitetails & stocked pheasants. And the odd squirrel. I see much more diversity in our State Forests.

I reckon this is because the State Forests have more centralized planning, whereas an SGL has a single Land Manager calling the shots... and their priorities & skill sets can really vary place to place. But in my area, they are really catering to deer & pheasant hunters. To be fair, one of the 5 SGL's in my area has evidence of good habitat work for migratory birds (waterfowl and non), as well as invasive species removal, but it's definitely an outlier. (If I could actually find out who that Land Manager was, I'd applaud him for putting in the work!)

As RyanR said, yes, I wish there was more transparency to the Land Manager listing & that you could more easily track them down & give input re: SGL management. Their email & contact info should certainly be listed.
 

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The huge mess usually makes the best habitat just the same.
I was talking to a PA forester about this just the other day... He said, "If you want diverse habitat, and you can't afford a deer fence, leave that stuff where you drop it. Otherwise the deer will browse it down to nothing, and you're back where you began."
 

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Boon, if you want to know who it is call or email the region office and give the SGL and ask.
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
I was talking to a PA forester about this just the other day... He said, "If you want diverse habitat, and you can't afford a deer fence, leave that stuff where you drop it. Otherwise the deer will browse it down to nothing, and you're back where you began."
You know the deer are out of control when the GC is fencing their own cuts. And so are private landowners, state forests, and the national forest. There are more deer now than when HR was started years ago. And that is why there is no shrub layer that we see in other grouse states.
 

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You know the deer are out of control when the GC is fencing their own cuts. And so are private landowners, state forests, and the national forest. There are more deer now than when HR was started years ago. And that is why there is no shrub layer that we see in other grouse states.
When falling grouse, rabbit, and hare numbers are discussed, you get all these people saying “kill more predators, kill more predators.” But I do believe that shooting more deer would have more of an impact! (Take a look at both sides of a deer fence & the difference is amazing in habitat quality .) But that’s a conversation people don’t want to have.

I have to laugh when people on here complain about low deer numbers in PA. Compared to what? We are saturated.
 

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You know the deer are out of control when the GC is fencing their own cuts. And so are private landowners, state forests, and the national forest. There are more deer now than when HR was started years ago. And that is why there is no shrub layer that we see in other grouse states.
An over abundance of any animal can be a problem, whether its deer destroying habit that grouse need, or predators actually killing the grouse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #70 ·
When falling grouse, rabbit, and hare numbers are discussed, you get all these people saying “kill more predators, kill more predators.” But I do believe that shooting more deer would have more of an impact! (Take a look at both sides of a deer fence & the difference is amazing in habitat quality .) But that’s a conversation people don’t want to have.
Bingo, without that shrub layer, nesting grouse, turkey, rabbit are more susceptible to predation. The after hatch/birth when they move to brood cover, again, no shrub layer, it makes it much easier for predators to pick of the young chicks/rabbits. If we ever get good habitat, the predator problem will go away.
 

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With grouse we need good habitat. But when you have avian predators causing 44% of the mortality, and mammals causing 25%, and lastly hunters coming in at 12%, that is an 81% mortality rate combined. In a normal situation you would try to address the causes of highest mortality, that being the avian predators. So what was done to address this high predation, the avian predators are protected totally, then we get to the mammals, kind of a split decision on these. Bobcats and fisher highly protected, one a year in some areas, with a short season, with the purchase of a tag. Other mammals greater opportunities of controlling them. Then we take man, we reduce his already short season. These mortality numbers were based on 3118 grouse with radio transmitters. Maybe the better approach would be to address the causes of highest mortality. Avian predator reduction given high priority, followed by a reduction in more land predators. But my guess as grouse numbers decline even more, us hunters will see reduced bag limits and a shorter season or no season at all. Good habitat helps, but with that high of a mortality just from predators alone, our grouse are going to be gone, like our pheasants and quail. Turkeys are next. Our wild pheasant restoration efforts were also a failure. The pheasant biologist said that with the pheasants too, avian predation was the highest predation. One would think that when you have the same reoccurring predation problems something would be done. But then again we are having a hard time just getting someone to get the timbering done and killing a few trees. People can defend these predators all they want , but the studies and the lack of grouse out there, are proof of what predation can do to prey numbers. I believe this study had something to do with the Appalachian ruffed grouse ecology and management.
 

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So lets see, will we get enough good habitat made to help grouse, or will we address the avian predation, the highest cause of mortality? We will never see either, and our grouse will be gone. For a hunting site I can not believe the amount of people who are against controlling predators based on their numbers and impact on prey. Too many tree huggers and predator huggers controlling the management of game numbers. Keep politics and emotion out of game management.
 

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I have no issue with people going out & taking predators as the law allows. Have at it. Go set a trap line. Tree some coons. (Though the Fed gov’t is never gonna let you take avian predators, sorry. That’s a pipe dream.)

But habitat is #1. If you don’t have quality habitat, you’re not going to have grouse. And we just do not have the ESH acreage we need.

My dog & I find a healthy number of grouse in NC PA… but only in good habitat, mostly on State Forest, and we have to put in the boot leather to find those pockets. And I assure you that those areas have no more or less predators than anywhere else, even though I see trapping going on (heck, my dog got caught on a dirt set last year). I’ve seen plenty of hawks, owls, coyotes, coons, and fishers in my best grouse covers. I’ve found a fresh goshawk kill of a grouse… then flushed a living grouse 75 yards past that. But those covers do have ample cover to protect the grouse so some make it through the season. Of course the predators are gonna eat some. This ain’t a hobby to them. But if you have good habitat, there will be birds and hare to go around. Look at Maine. Look at the UP. Those places are small game Valhalla because they have so much habitat.
 

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I wish the PGC would start stocking cottontail instead of pheasants. At least they would reproduce if given the chance 😁
I have several SGL near me with excellent rabbit habitat. They were clear cut years ago and now have heavy briars and brush piles everywhere. Not a cottontail to be found on them. Rabbits aren’t going to simply appear when they weren’t there previously. I’m not a bird hunter so can’t say much about grouse.
 

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I use to always hear, build the habitat and they will come speech, I have seen many areas of good habitat and no rabbits, in these cases I blame a predator. Once a small game species is gone from an area, it is hard to bring them back, if predators are high in numbers. That survey of predation on grouse at 44% for avian predators and 25% for mammals may apply to other small game such as rabbits. I know in areas that I rabbit hunted, that had grouse in them, when the predators wiped out the grouse, the predators were still there eating something. All small game I know of has been eliminated or reduced in numbers in most areas since the total protection of many predators. These are just the facts. Habitat alone does not seem to work for bringing back high numbers of small game, when you have a high number of predators. In the old days habitat and strong predator control worked great for small game numbers. Then the government got involved, with the anti hunters and we are where we are today. We have seen the direct impacts out west when they protected wolves. Things got so bad for big game numbers, that enough people complained and many states got a limited season to try to save big game numbers. Out there they did not try to blame it on habitat. Here in PA and many other states we have seen what happened to prey numbers when they gave total protection to raptors. Difference between wolves and raptors, is wolves killed big game that everyone cares about, and the raptors wiped out the small game, that most people do not care about. Control all animals based on their numbers and their impact on other species.
 

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Discussion Starter · #76 ·
Stocking rabbits would be a great idea. Not nearly the cost of pheasants. For a $25 stamp they could easily stock 500 thousand. Add in the extra $1 million like they do for the pheasant program and they could probably double that number. And plenty more places to stock them to spread out the pressure.
 

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“Build habitat and they will come” isn’t quite right for grouse—and it sounds like rabbits, too. You need some seed birds in the area. Grouse aren’t going to move that far. Unfortunately. You need to create the habitat where you have some brood stock left. (Woodcock, on the other hand, are pretty good at finding new habitat wherever during migration .) A couple of us locally are trying to get some habitat work done in Bald Eagle SF… but only where we have spotted some adult birds and broods or heard drummers. It’s not like we are doing habitat work at random. You need a plan. We’re trying to get something happening in areas where the habitat is aging/minimal but we still have some seed birds holding on.
The good news is, grouse and rabbits (and quail) are quite productive, with big broods. But you gotta have parents around & good cover.
If there are zero rabbits or grouse on the ground, then do the habitat work elsewhere.
 

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Not against stocking, but if the proper management of our small game and predators were done in the past, we would not have these problems today. In many areas grouse are so far dispersed and spread out that it would take stocking to reintroduce them in the old areas where they existed. I am sure that hare are in the same situation, and rabbits in some areas. As this was tried with pheasants, and failed, with raptors causing the majority of the mortality, the same would probably happen with any other small game, that would be stocked to enhance a come back population. You have to address the problem that caused the reduction and elimination of the small game in many areas. Having the federal government overseeing predators, is kind of like the federal government controlling your gun rights, or covid. They are always looking for a way to take your guns, and after funding their bat experiment in china, we now have covid. I do believe that biden did tell us this summer, that the virus was behind us, masks would not be needed as much and the vaccines would work in reducing the covid numbers. A few months later more covid than ever, even with the vaccinated. If they are careless with human lives, why would they care about small game, habitat, and other outdoor issues.
 

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“Build habitat and they will come” isn’t quite right for grouse—and it sounds like rabbits, too. You need some seed birds in the area. Grouse aren’t going to move that far. Unfortunately. You need to create the habitat where you have some brood stock left. (Woodcock, on the other hand, are pretty good at finding new habitat wherever during migration .) A couple of us locally are trying to get some habitat work done in Bald Eagle SF… but only where we have spotted some adult birds and broods or heard drummers. It’s not like we are doing habitat work at random. You need a plan. We’re trying to get something happening in areas where the habitat is aging/minimal but we still have some seed birds holding on.
The good news is, grouse and rabbits (and quail) are quite productive, with big broods. But you gotta have parents around & good cover.
If there are zero rabbits or grouse on the ground, then do the habitat work elsewhere.
This is what concerns me. Grouse disappeared around Butler about 20 years ago. Once common, I don’t think there’s a grouse remaining in the township I live in. Even if the food and cover were dramatically improved, it would probably take a long time for grouse to repopulate.
 

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I can just see it now WRRA Wild Rabbit Recovery Area...closed to hunting dog training whistling humming walking running training watching tv and a couple other sundries

Yeah put that in the suggestion box :mad:

Elmer Fudd would have ball saying Wild Wabbit Wecovery Arwea
 
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