Grouse hunt set to be flying high

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Bird hunters in Norway are looking forward to a good season this year, with state authorities reporting an increase in the white grouse (rype, or ptarmigan) population for the second year in a row. The hunt officially starts on Wednesday.

Grouse hang from the wall of a traditional cabin in the mountains of Norway. This year's hunt gets underway on September 10. PHOTO: Statskog

Grouse hang from the wall of a traditional cabin in the mountains of Norway. This year’s hunt gets underway on September 10. PHOTO: Statskog

Bird counts conducted by the state agency Statskog make for encouraging reading for the hunters. More grouse have been observed in nearly all the areas around the country where counts are conducted. Statskog officials also said most of the chicks have survived the summer, adding to the population.

To ensure a sustainable hunt, quotas are set at various levels around Norway. In the northern regions of Troms, Ofoten, Salten and Helgeland,  for example, each hunter is allowed five grouse per hunting day.

Birds known as "lirype." PHOTO: Statskog

Birds known as “lirype.” PHOTO: Statskog

Most of the hunt takes place on state-owned land, under the management of Statskog, with the largest hunting areas found in Nordland and Troms. An estimated 70,000 hunters take part every year, with the mountains of Dovrefjell and Femundsmarka also popular hunting grounds. Hunting licenses go on sale in early May.

State statistics bureau SSB reported that 152,000 grouse were shot during last year’s hunting season, up 26 percent from the year before when just 120,000 birds were shot. That was a huge decline from the roughly 440,000 birds shot in Norway’s grouse hunt 10 years ago.

The warm summer in Norway also is believed to have resulted in more mice in the mountains this year, which in turn can expand the bird population because they provide a source of food.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund