The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging hunters in the central and northern forests to assist in the final sampling of a multi-state study on West Nile virus in ruffed grouse.
To participate, fill out a short online form to receive a free sampling kit in early September ahead of the Sept. 18 ruffed grouse season opener. The number of kits provided per individual are limited to ensure samples come from a large geographic area. The DNR will work with conservation partners to distribute 500 kits to hunters.
Additional data collection through hunter-contributed samples will increase the overall sample size and strengthen the results of the study. Hunters who have an unused kit from a previous year are encouraged to collect a sample and send it in to be processed; nothing in the kit expires.
Sample testing will begin after the close of ruffed grouse season with results available several months after testing. Hunters will receive test results via email.
The West Nile virus is spread by mosquitos and its effects on birds can vary. Signs range from no clinical disease or illness to heart lesions and inflammation of the brain’s lining and spinal cord. Many factors can influence how severely the virus affects an individual bird. There is no evidence that West Nile can spread by handling dead birds or by consuming properly cooked game.
Ruffed grouse are native to the northern United States and southern Canada. The Great Lakes region contains some of the most extensive forest habitats for grouse and the healthiest ruffed grouse populations in the nation. The DNR continues to work with partners to develop long-term management strategies for ruffed grouse in Wisconsin.
For more information on ruffed grouse disease sampling in Wisconsin, visit the DNR’s ruffed grouse hunting webpage.