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Fort Pierre Grassland grouse numbers remain stable

A prairie chicken takes flight on the booming grounds. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

FORT PIERRE — U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service staff at the Fort Pierre National Grassland have now completed their annual spring survey of prairie grouse. The total number of birds tallied in 2019 was 413, similar to the 419 found in spring 2018.

"Prairie grouse" is an inclusive term for both greater prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse. The number of greater prairie-chickens counted in 2019 was 333, a decrease from the 354 in spring 2018. The number of sharp-tailed grouse counted in 2019 was 80, an increase from the 65 seen last year.

In 2017 — a year believed to be affected by drought — the USDA reported 421 greater prairie chickens and 80 sharp-tailed grouse. A record 491 greater prairie chickens were reported in 2016, along with 131 sharp-tailed grouse.

The Fort Pierre National Grassland spans 116,000 federal acres in Jones, Lyman and Stanley counties. The land is known for providing shelter for prairie chickens, sharp-tailed grouse and pheasants. For more information, call the Fort Pierre Ranger District at 605-224-5517.

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