By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: August 24, 2023

MISSOULA – An effort to restore native sharp-tailed grouse to western Montana continues, and this fall Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is reminding hunters and others to be especially careful to identify grouse when in the field.

FWP biologists, with the help of conservation groups and private landowners, relocated approximately 97 sharp-tailed grouse from eastern Montana to western Montana in 2021 and 2022, plus 144 more grouse this spring.  Birds were released in the lower Bitterroot Valley near Florence, in the Flint Creek Valley near Drummond, and in the upper Blackfoot Valley near Helmville.

Prior to these relocations, the last sharptail documented in western Montana was in 2000. The relocations were a result of a decade of planning of how to bring this species back to a region where it was previously common.

Upland game bird season opens September 1, and FWP wants to be sure that bird hunters are aware that they could encounter a sharp-tailed grouse in western Montana so to be extra careful with identifying birds. Hunting for sharp-tailed grouse has been closed west of the Continental Divide for decades.  Find out more and about how to identify grouse online at

Some of the relocated birds have radio transmitters, and FWP biologists are tracking their movements and using the information to help make plans for future releases over the next decade. Not all birds have transmitters, so reports of sightings can also help wildlife staff. If you are fairly confident that you encountered a sharp-tailed grouse in western Montana, report sightings to FWP’s project supervisor, Chris Hammond, at

There will likely continue to be increased chances for sharp-tailed grouse sightings over time as these relocated birds move into new areas, so hunters and others should keep a careful lookout.

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