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Sage Grouse Chick Production Unusually High This Year

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says that Sage grouse chick production was unusually high this year.

The agency has discovered that grouse hens had more chicks this year than usual, over two per hen.  That’s over double from last year.

Chief Game Warden Brian Nesnik says hunters submit wings of grouse they harvest to the department for analysis.  That’s how they determine what is happening with the bird.

"Really it indicates to us that when hunters submit wings from birds they’ve harvested, number one, it’s random, and number two, it provides us a pretty good idea of, and is a reflection of, what’s actually out there on the ground."

Nesvik says that he’s not surprised by the data.  He says sage grouse chicks require lots of protein early in their first year, and the moisture this spring helped insects abound.

“It’s not a surprise,” he says. “Because there’s a strong correlation between moisture and sage grouse chick production, and certainly this was a very wet year across most of our state when we had above-average precipitation, and a lot of that precipitation was early.”

Nesvik says the chick production ratio is the highest since 2005.

Erin Jones is Wyoming Public Radio's cultural affairs producer, as well as the host and senior producer of HumaNature. She began her audio career as an intern in the Wyoming Public Radio newsroom, and has reported on issues ranging from wild horse euthanization programs to the future of liberal arts in universities. Her audio work has been featured on WHYY Philadelphia’s The Pulse and the podcast Out There.
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