While the politicians debate whether the state’s economy has turned around, it’s evident the state’s most popular trophy bird is back. The extra snowy winter and wet spring two years ago made Iowa’s pheasant population dropped faster than the price of Enron stock. Hunters bagged a record-low 470-thousand birds last fall. Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, Todd Bogenschutz says the warm, dry winter this year has led to a 119-percent increase in the pheasant population this spring.The best hunting will likely be in east-central Iowa. He says the big surge up and down in the pheasant population is a little unusual.He says it has happened in the past, but the weather conditions have to be just right to get the birds to come back. He says the warm weather also benefited other small game, as the rabbit and quail populations are up too, as are most upland game numbers. The West Nile Virus has raised its head as another risk for the pheasant population. But Bogenschutz says it doesn’t look like it will cause many problems.He says pheasants have tested positive for West Nile in other states, but the disease doesn’t seem to be fatal to them. Bogenschutz predicts hunters could bag over 900-thousand pheasants this year.
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