Department of Natural Resources
Some of the Michigan results data contained in an earlier news release requires clarification. The full, corrected release follows. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Oct. 23, 2019
|First-year results from a multistate West Nile virus study show that while the virus is present in some ruffed grouse in the Great Lakes region, some birds exposed to the virus can survive. More than 700 hunter-provided samples from Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin were analyzed – both for exposure and infection – in the West Nile Virus in ruffed grouse surveillance project coordinated by the natural resources departments in those three states.
The results from this first year of a three-year study are showing that, while the virus is present in the region, exposed grouse can survive. Research in other states points to good grouse habitat as one factor that can produce birds in better condition that are better able to survive stressors like West Nile virus.
“High-quality grouse habitat is a key component to the overall health of the birds and their ability to survive diseases and other limiting factors,” said Al Stewart, upland game bird specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Stewart also pointed to a recent Pennsylvania study showing that in areas of lower-quality habitat or where habitat is scarce, WNV may contribute to declines in ruffed grouse population.
The Pennsylvania research paper is available for purchase in the Wildlife Society's Wiley Online Library. This Young Forest Project article from November 2016 provides an overview of the study's partnerships and results.
“Participation from grouse hunters in the region is an important component of the study,” said Julie Melotti, a laboratory technician with the Michigan DNR’s Wildlife Disease Lab. “We appreciate all of the interest and efforts being made by hunters to provide samples for this study.”
Hunters who provided email contact information with their 2018 samples will be notified of their results this fall. Due to the strong interest in this study, all the kits assembled by the Michigan DNR for the 2019 season have been distributed.
Further information on WNV in ruffed grouse can be found on the Michigan DNR’s WNV and Ruffed Grouse FAQ sheet.