In New York, Bonasa umbellus (Ruffed Grouse) abundance has declined since the 1960s, presumably due to forest maturation. Wildlife managers expressed concern that hunting may contribute to the population decline as habitat quality decreases. We monitored fall—winter survival of 169 radio-marked Ruffed Grouse at 2 study areas in New York differing in forest age and composition. Fewer than 11% of radio-marked birds were harvested, and seasonal survival was similar at the 2 study areas in both study years (0.38 and 0.51, 2007–2008; 0.48 and 0.48, 2008–2009). Predation, particularly by raptors, was the largest source of mortality, but locations of predation events were not associated with forest age or configuration within 300 m. We found no evidence to support a reduction in harvest limits, although our harvest estimates may have been biased low.
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Vol. 18 • No. 4