The latest roadside survey from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources shows pheasants didn’t fare well in the snowy winter and wet spring. D.N.R. wildlife biologist, Todd Bogenschutz, says the drop off was very evident as they traveled across the roadways looking for the birds
He says statewide there was a 29.5% decline in the number of birds over last year. Last year they averaged 16 birds for each route, while this year they averaged 11. Bogenschutz had expected the tough weather to have an impact — but not all the survey results were negative.
“It surprised me a little bit with our counts in north-west, and north-central Iowa, they didn’t go down as much as I thought,” Bogenschutz says, “they were only down six percent in north-central and 17% in the northwest. And I would have thought, you know 50 and 60-percent would have been more expected.” He says north-central and north-west Iowa have some of the best public lands for pheasant numbers, so that probably helped moderate the loses a little bit.
Bogenschutz says the bird numbers could recover some this winter if we get some better winter weather. Bogenschutz says it was the fourth consecutive winter with 30 inches of snow and that has never happened since they’ve began taking standardized pheasant surveys in 1961. “So it’s a first, I mean we’ve never seen winters this bad consecutively,” Bogenschutz says. He says the roadside surveys project out to a pheasant harvest between 150,000 to 200,000 roosters this fall.
The 2010 pheasant hunting season opens October 30th and runs through January 10, 2011. You can see the full roadside survey results here: roadside survey