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DEC releases spruce grouse recovery plan

by jmaloni

Press release

Fri, Apr 5th 2013 01:20 pm

Plan would help restore endangered bird population

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has adopted a spruce grouse recovery plan to enhance and restore spruce grouse populations in New York State, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced Friday. The final spruce grouse recovery plan is now available on DEC's website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/89794.html.

"Recommendations in the plan are intended to stabilize and improve the distribution and abundance of this rare bird species and ultimately increase its population," Martens said. "The spruce grouse is an historic resident of New York state and represents an important and visible component of the forest community."

Spruce grouse were first listed as a threatened species in New York in 1983 and later moved to the endangered species list in 1999 as a result of continued declines in the population. The DEC said conservation of spruce grouse and their habitat is important to preserving New York's biodiversity and unique character.

Highlights of the plan include measures for managing habitat, reintroducing spruce grouse into selected sites, and conducting research to determine the best source of birds for reintroduction into New York.

Preliminary genetic testing indicates that, without human intervention and re-establishment of the species, New York's spruce grouse bird population may be lost.

"The spruce grouse is perhaps the best-known icon and a perfect representative of boreal habitats in New York," said Michale Glennon, Adirondack landscape science coordinator of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "These northern peatlands are used by numerous species and are extremely important to New York's biodiversity. At the southern extent of their range here, these birds and their habitat represent a small piece of the true boreal forest and draw untold numbers of birders who seek them out."

Herbert Boyce, from Northwoods Forest Consultants LLC, said, "For effective management of any forest-obligate species, it is imperative that appropriate forest management strategies be developed and implemented. For the spruce grouse, a species evidently in need of habitat management, no accepted management methods have yet been developed that can be applied broadly. This plan discusses methods for testing management strategies in an experimental framework to determine which strategies will be most effective in maintaining persistent grouse populations in New York. Reversing human-caused habitat changes that occurred in the 1800s and early 1900s can only be done with carefully planned and executed forest management to produce desired habitat and associated species for the long term."

Although recovery plans are not required for endangered species in New York state, under environmental conservation law, a recovery plan can be prepared to provide guidance for improving the status of the species, eventual recovery of populations and removal from New York's endangered species list.

DEC biologists will now develop specific steps to implement the spruce grouse recovery plan, beginning with an evaluation of the feasibility of moving a small number of healthy spruce grouse from Canada to an experimental site in northern New York.

The spruce grouse recovery plan and a summary of responses to public comments are available on DEC's website. Additional information on spruce grouse can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7078.html on the DEC website.

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