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Ruffed grouse

Ruffed grouse season closes December, a month earlier than scheduled.

Last fall, 400 sampling kits were given to ruffed grouse hunters to collect blood droplets and the hearts of birds they took during hunts.

Officials in Michigan and Minnesota did the same.

To date (the season closes Dec. 31), 219 kits have been returned to the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources and are being shipped to the University of Georgia for analysis.

About 200 kits have been returned by Minnesota and Michigan hunters in their respective states, too.

Some northeastern states heard what was being done in the Midwest and are engaged in similar endeavors.

No test results from the blood or heart tissue have been returned from the testing laboratory because all the samples will be processed at the same time, at seasons' ends. Results may be several months in coming.

While the results, once received, will be useful in estimating the exposure of Wisconsin’s ruffed grouse to West Nile Virus as baseline data, coming from antibody presence, or not, in the blood samples.

The heart tissue is used for a clinical study looking for lesions in birds that may eventually have died from the disease. Some birds coming in contact with WNV do not die.

In addition, 15 Wisconsin dead or dying birds have been shipped to a Madison laboratory by hunters for routine dead bird analysis. Usually just a bird or two are shipped annually.

About 75 percent of the hunters who took it upon themselves to report on their grouse season and hunts responded as having a good outing this fall.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer from Barneveld, at sivadjam@mhtc.net or 608-924-1112.

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