Aitkin, Minn. – The DNR has a new grouse coordinator.
Ted Dick, who’s been with the DNR for nearly 10 years as the assistant area wildlife manager in Baudette, began the new position last week. He’s based in Aitkin.
The DNR and Ruffed Grouse Society are sharing in the costs of the position. Dick grew up grouse hunting in Cass and Itasca counties and says he’s long been interested in grouse and woodcock management.
“This job gave me an opportunity to move closer to those areas and work on it full-time,” Dick said. “I’m pretty excited about it.”
The DNR first announced its plan to create such a position at the annual roundtable sessions in January. It marks the first time the agency has had a point person for grouse hunting.
In January, DNRâ€ˆWildlife Section Chief Dennis Simon said the agency needed a person to advocate for grouse and stay in touch with hunters.
“We really do need someone, I think, to advocate for grouse when they are on the up cycle, and look for ways to maintain that excitement when they are on the down cycle,” he said at the time.
The agency has a grouse researcher – Mike Larson, at the Forest Wildlife Population and Research Group – who is the “brains behind the science, and investigating ways to ensure healthy grouse populations,” Dick said.
Dick will work closely with Larson to communicate grouse-related information. He’ll also be a “voice for grouse hunters,” and make sure that grouse habitat is a part of the state’s long-range timber planning. Dick will advocate for early successional habitat, and also “to make the habitat better when we harvest to make sure grouse and woodcock like what’s left after a timber sale,” he said.
Dick also will work with counties and the U.S. Forest Service to make sure there are hunting opportunities for grouse and woodcock hunters.
At the end of the day, he plans to “do everything we can to make sure grouse hunting remains strong in Minnesota.”
Grouse counts have been strong in the state for the past couple of years – at or around their 10-year peak – but harvest has lagged because the number of people targeting grouse isn’t as high as it once was.
“Grouse hunting here is as good as it is anywhere,” Dick said. “We want to keep it that way and make sure people know about it.
“Grouse hunting is still good. It’s a fun thing to do and it’s a great gateway into the outdoors and hunting for kids.”