The Minnesota DNR has closed 2021 hunting for sharptail grouse in the state’s east-central part of the state, said the Duluth News Tribune. Significantly declining bird populations are the reason for the closure, which could extend into future years.

“Sharptail grouse require areas of approximately 1 to 3 square miles of grassland and brushland, so managing their habitats often requires cooperation between multiple land owners,” said DNR grouse project leader Charlotte Roy in a recent press release. “We’ve known for some time that the large, open areas of grassland and brushland that sharptail grouse need are changing and becoming less suitable for these birds.” In the east-central region, breeding lek counts have declined by 32 percent since 2019.

Bird hunters will have other species to hunt when the state’s ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, and Hungarian partridge seasons open on September 18, 2021. Sharptail fans will be able to hunt in the northwest zones. Pheasant season remains intact, and the closing date to apply for the prairie chicken lottery is August 20, 2021.