Sharp-tailed Grouse Dancing Ground Survey in Alberta Conservation Association's Prairie Region 2000
Linda D. Cerney
The Natural Resources Service initiated the Alberta Sharp-tailed Grouse Habitat Program in 1995. Funding for this project was provided from the Fish and Wildlife Trust fund. In 1997, the Alberta Conservation Association took responsibility of this program. The goal of the program is to enhance habitat by developing range/wildlife habitat management plans in cooperation with landowners. As part of this program, spring lek or dancing ground surveys was to be conducted to identify sharptail activity and obtain site specific habitat information. Monitoring of leks has been conducted by both the Alberta Conservation Association and the Natural Resources Services staff. This is the programs sixth year and summaries of the results of the sharptail lek surveys conducted in 2000 are provided in this report.
The basic method used to inventory sharp-tailed grouse numbers involved ground counts of birds displaying on leks from April to May. In 2000, surveys were conducted in areas of the Milk River Ridge, Writing-On-Stone, Special Area #4 and Pakowki Lake. Information contained in this report consists of results for dancing grounds on participating landowners associated with the sharp-tailed grouse habitat program. Landowner dancing grounds in the Milk River Ridge area were ground surveyed with 15 leks surveyed. A total of 238 birds were observed on 14 active leks, consisting of 67 males, 7 females, and 167 unclassified birds. The Writing-On-Stone area had 3 active leks surveyed with a total of 453 birds (146 males, 37 females and 270 unclassified birds). The participating grazing association (consisting of 76 000 acres) in the Pakowki Lake area had 3 sections (11 473 acres) surveyed, with one dancing ground located consisting of 10 unclassified birds. Comparisons of each of these areas were completed for all the years surveyed.
Recommendations for future considerations include approaching other landowners in all project areas whom are not participating in the habitat program, to become involved, and establish trend blocks and/or conduct an aerial survey for the grazing reserve in Pakowki Lake area. Continue with trend block surveys already established and continue monitoring leks to establish long term population trends.