Pennsylvania Game News - August 2018 - 22

the European naturalists, in their various accounts of our different species of
'Grous,' should have said little or nothing
of the one now before us, which, in its
voice, manners, and peculiarity of plumage, is the most singular, and in its flesh
the most excellent, of all those in its tribe
that inhabit the territory of the United
States," wrote Wilson.
The lack of uniformity in reporting the
heath hen, particularly by name, is noticeable in many period accounts.
For instance, John J. Audubon wrote in
1829 of probing the "Great Pine Swamp"
- the land from Carbon County's Pocono
Mountain north to Wilkes-Barre. There,
the wild turkey, pheasant and grouse were
"tolerably abundant," he wrote.
But most period and modern naturalists agree Audubon had referred to ruffed
grouse as "pheasants" and heath hens as
"grouse," or vice versa.

Stone eventually would write in 1894
that he considered the heath hen extinct
in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
It is possible Pennsylvania was home
to the last heath hens on the American
mainland.
On Martha's Vineyard, off the coast
of Massachusetts, residents helped heath
hens survive longer than nature might
have allowed.
And before they were gone, the Pennsylvania Game Commission sent John
Slautterback, its chief of vermin control,
there to offer advice on how to reduce
predator problems the birds faced.
Killing predators was a key part of
early 20th century wildlife management in
many states. It was an approach supported
by some of the most important champions

HISTORICAL OBSERVATIONS

22

Ron Knight

Wilson established the heath hen's
presence "... on the Grous plains of New
Jersey, in Burlington county, as well as on
the Brushy plains of Long Island - among
the pines and shrub-oaks of 'Pocano,' in
Northampton county, Pennsylvania."
He also believed "the recollection
of an old man" who told of barren-like
country a few miles south of York that
once "abounded with grous."
When timber reclaimed the country,
"these birds totally disappeared," Wilson
reported he was told.
Witmer Stone, editor for the American
Ornithologists' Union journal, The Auk,
also had heath hens surviving in the huckleberry barrens of Monroe County until
"about 1869," and on the barren plains that
covered portions of New Jersey's Ocean
and Burlington counties "up to 1868 and
probably later, a few were said to occur."



Pennsylvania Game News - August 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - August 2018

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Pennsylvania Game News - August 2018 - Cover3
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