The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports severe weather has cut the state’s pheasant population by 32 percent compared to last year. DNR wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz says he thought the results of the agency’s recent roadside survey would turn out much worse.
"I guess I was contemplating upwards of 50 to 60% decline," Bogenshutz said. "We saw about 32%, which is bad enough, but I’m glad it came in the way it did rather than what I was expecting."
Hunters could find it especially difficult to scare up pheasants this Fall in portions of eastern Iowa, where Winter snowfall approached 7 feet. "The flooding this spring just added further insult to injury," Bogenschutz said. "The counts in southeast and east-central Iowa are down by over 70 percent."
The pheasant numbers do have the ability to rebound within a couple of years, but Bogenschutz says the birds don’t have nearly as much habitat. He blames the loss of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands.
"With ethanol and everything right now, we’re losing CRP (land), so that concerns me a little bit," Bogenschutz said. "If we don’t have the habitat out there, it’s going to be hard for (pheasants) to bounce back." Iowa’s pheasant hunting season this year is scheduled for October 25th through January 10th.