Woodcock Conservationists to Convene in MI for Rangewide Symposium

Conservationists – including biologists, administrators, and communication specialists – will gather for the 11th Woodcock Symposium from October 24 to 27, 2017, at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon, Michigan.

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Woodcock hen./C. Fergus

They will present research findings and population and habitat management accomplishments from the last 10 years, and will plan cooperatively for the future of woodcock management in North America.

The last such symposium took place in 2006. Since then, timberdoodle enthusiasts have completed considerable work in woodcock research, management, and conservation, which collectively has helped to arrest the decades-long downward trend in the species' population.

The symposium will feature the presentation of papers focused on priorities identified in the 2010 publication Priority Information Needs for American Woodcock, A Funding Strategy.

Those priorities include:

  • developing a demographic-based model for assessing woodcock population response to harvest and habitat management;
  • devising communication strategies to increase support for policies and practices that benefit American woodcock and other wildlife that require young forest habitats;
  • improving our understanding of habitat used by woodcock for migration, breeding, and wintering; and
  • improving the American woodcock singing-ground survey, an important indicator of population trends in the species.



The American Woodcock Symposia were started in the 1960s, when wildlife biologists, managers, and administrators convened at workshops in Minnesota (1966), Louisiana (1968), and Maine (1969) to discuss the management of woodcock and recent research into the species’ behavior and habitat needs.

The symposia represent the preeminent North American conferences for sharing research findings and exploring management issues pertaining to the conservation of American woodcock. This year’s symposium marks the 11th iteration of formal information exchange concerning the conservation of this popular gamebird.

The reach of American woodcock management exceeds helping this denizen of thick young forest and shrubland, since many different kinds of wildlife also require those same habitats. Creating young forest for woodcock directly benefits more than 60 kinds of wildlife considered to be Species of Greatest Conservation Need by states within the woodcock’s range, which spans the eastern half of North America.

This year’s symposium will include social gatherings for networking and information exchange, formal presentations (some of which are open to the public), and a banquet.

Sponsors include the Glassen Memorial Foundation, Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sheldon Family Foundation, Woodcock Limited, Woodcock Minnesota, and the Wildlife Management Institute, and a number of private corporations including L.L. Bean, Cabela’s, and Purina.

See the website of the Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society for online registration and reservations.

For additional information about this year’s symposium, contact Andrew Weik of the Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society at 607-793-4832 or andyw@ruffedgrousesociety.org; Tom Cooper of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 612-713-5338 or Tom_Cooper@fws.gov; or Al Stewart of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at 517-282-1913 or stewarta1@michigan.gov