Jerry Davis: Grouse test kits available in September

July 30, 2018

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is planning to make 400 grouse kits available to hunters and others to collect samples this fall to test birds for West Nile Virus.

Kit distribution will be finalized before the September 15 ruffed grouse season opener.

Mark Witecha, DNR farm bill spokesman and upland game bird wildlife biologist, said the kits will enable hunters to take a blood sample and harvest the bird’s heart.

“All the supplies needed will be in the kits, including a prepaid envelope to mail back to the laboratory,” Witecha said. “There are instruction sheets, data sheets, and plastic bottles for the samples, along with two cold packs.”

Minnesota and Michigan are likely to use very similar procedures in getting samples of blood and heart tissue from birds in those states.

“Information should be available to hunters very soon to request or acquire kits,” Witecha said.

The DNR is looking to get samples from different regions of the state, particularly the northern and central regions.

Hunters will be expected to age to bird as juvenile or adult and male or female using instructions and diagrams provided in the kit directions.

Sampling and testing other species of grouse in Wisconsin, including sharptails, is not planned at the present time. Twenty-five sharptail permits will be issued for the Oct. 10 through Nov. 11 season in Management Unit 8.

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