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Iowa Pheasant Population at an All Time Low

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September 07, 2011
Iowa Pheasant Population at an All Time Low - 3

There's bird trouble in the Hawkeye state. Today the Iowa DNR reported that pheasant numbers are at an all-time low thanks to another tough winter and wet spring. The DNR drives 30 mile routes through pheasant habitat to survey populations, and this year surveyors averaged seven birds counted per route. That's down from 11 birds per route last year, according to KCRG News. Keep in mind that's birds counted, not the actual number of birds on each route.

This is the fifth year in a row that Iowa was hit with a harsh winter and an extra wet spring, which makes for brutal nesting conditions. Other pheasant powerhouses like Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska have also seen a drop in pheasant numbers over the past few seasons.

Here's the report on Iowa's season last year from Pheasants Forever: "Coming off a record low year of just 74,017 hunters bagging 271,136 roosters, Iowa's statewide August roadside survey count showed a decrease of 30 percent from last year.

Iowa hasn't been able to escape moisture. The state had one of the snowiest winters in state history, only to be followed up by a June through August stretch that was likely the wettest in state history. Mix in the previous years that haven't been good for pheasant production, and CRP acreage losses, and it's easy to see why Iowa pheasants have dropped to such historically low levels."

Annually, the top five pheasant harvest states are South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska. Iowa ranks number six historically.

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from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 31 weeks ago

Iowa doesn't do any stocking and hasn't for years. The roadside counts are done in the early morning when the grass is wet from dew. Pheasants will congregate on the roadsides to dry out and get grit. That's the idea behind it and historically it is a pretty accurate measure, but again you need many years of data to make an accurate projection.

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from Dcast wrote 2 years 31 weeks ago

I don't doubt the pheasant population has declined a bit, but how they go about counting these birds and the statistics is something to be desired. I read about this last year also and they drive along a road and count how many birds they see from their car! Big Problem! That is like saying 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the population. Does Iowa have it where you replace every bird with 1 1/2 or 2 birds like other places have? I am suspect of this whole thing.

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from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 31 weeks ago

Iowa really needs a break in this weather cycle in addition to the loss of CRP acres. I will still go out pheasant hunting but it is getting to the point where even my dog wonders what we are doing at times.

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from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 31 weeks ago

Iowa really needs a break in this weather cycle in addition to the loss of CRP acres. I will still go out pheasant hunting but it is getting to the point where even my dog wonders what we are doing at times.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 2 years 31 weeks ago

I don't doubt the pheasant population has declined a bit, but how they go about counting these birds and the statistics is something to be desired. I read about this last year also and they drive along a road and count how many birds they see from their car! Big Problem! That is like saying 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the population. Does Iowa have it where you replace every bird with 1 1/2 or 2 birds like other places have? I am suspect of this whole thing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 31 weeks ago

Iowa doesn't do any stocking and hasn't for years. The roadside counts are done in the early morning when the grass is wet from dew. Pheasants will congregate on the roadsides to dry out and get grit. That's the idea behind it and historically it is a pretty accurate measure, but again you need many years of data to make an accurate projection.

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