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.