January 18, 1996
(Natural Resources)

Partridge Declared Official Provincial Game Bird For Newfoundland and Labrador

Dr. Rex Gibbons, Minister of Natural Resources, announced today that, as the minister responsible for wildlife, he is pleased to designate the partridge (Lagopus spp.) as the official provincial game bird for Newfoundland and Labrador. The province's two partridges, the Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus Lagopus allani) and the Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus welchi) are native to the province and are widely distributed both on the island and in Labrador. Both birds have traditionally supported a strong hunting tradition. The partridge has played a very important role in the historic, cultural and economic development of Newfoundland and Labrador, its native peoples and European settlers and their descendants. The quality of Newfoundland's partridge hunting has been extolled since the discovery of the province. John Cabot reports sighting the birds, and Judge D. W. Prowse wrote with regard to the partridge ". . .that Newfoundland was a very sportsman's paradise. . . ". In his well-known hunting films of the 1950's, Lee Wulff stated that, in his opinion, hunting partridge over a good sporting dog in this province represented some of the finest wing shooting sport in the world.

In recent years, however, the ptarmigan population has been depressed for an unusually long period of time. The wildlife division of Dr. Gibbons' department has initiated several habitat management measures and department officials have cooperated closely with the Partridge Forever Society in a variety of conservation efforts aimed at increasing the population. The society is dedicated to promoting an appreciation of how these birds have been and continue to be an important feature of our cultural and economic way of life. Leslie James Dean of the society quotes in his publication, `In Praise of the Ptarmigan as the Province's Game Bird': "No other resident bird of Newfoundland and Labrador characterizes the wide open expanses of this province or stirs the hunter's pulse more than the ptarmigan or `partridge'. "Declaration of the ptarmigan as the official game bird will hopefully increase public awareness of the important of this species.

Found primarily in barrens and high country, the partridge epitomizes the open wilderness. The partridge is an arctic bird, and it is speculated that the Burin and Avalon peninsulas may be the most southern, naturally occurring extremity for this bird's range in north America. A fact that contributes to the unique eco-tourism potential for partridge viewing. The partridge is no stranger to this type of recognition. In Scotland, Red grouse, a very similar species, has been declared as the State Game Bird and is used as a symbol with commercial products.

Contact: Jim Hancock, Wildlife Division, Department of Natural Resources, (709) 729-2817; or Anna Buffinga, Department of Natural Resources, (709) 729-3750.

1996 01 18 10:40 a.m.

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