A survey released last week showing Iowa’s pheasant population is at an all-time low is not only bad news for hunters, it’s a big blow for the Iowa economy. Kevin Baskins, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says hunters spend a lot of money on hotels, food and equipment – but they’re not spending as much when their chances for a successful hunt are affected.

“A lot of that spending occurs in Iowa’s most rural areas, where there’s more amble hunting opportunities,” Baskins said. “So, certainly this can have a big impact on main streets across the state because if we don’t have the pheasants, we’re not going to have the hunters coming into those smaller communities and spending money during that time frame.”

Iowa’s 2011 pheasant hunting season runs from October 29 through January 10, 2012. The D.N.R.’s roadside survey, conducted in August, found an average of 7 birds counted for each 30 miles of route driven. That compares to 11 birds per route last year. Baskins says the situation may not be as bad as it seems.

“A lot of our biologists and people who were involved in with that roadside count have noted that since the official count was over, they have been seeing more birds,” Baskins said. “We would guess at this point, if we are off in terms of our estimations, we’re probably off on the low side. There may be more birds out there than what we’re projecting at this point.”

The dwindling pheasant population is blamed primarily on five consecutive winters of above average snowfall, in addition to a series of cold and wet springs.

Link to DNR’s roadside survey:www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/PheasantSmallGame/AugustRoadsideSurveyData.aspx