The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will begin conducting a roadside survey this week to determine what the pheasant population looks like across the state. D.N.R. wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz is predicting a significant increase in pheasant numbers for the first time in six years.
But, because of the drought, Bogenschutz is warning the roadside survey may not accurately reflect the bird population. “To get a really good count of the birds, we’re dependent on good dew conditions. For good dew, you need moisture in the soil and right now, we don’t have any,” Bogenschutz said.
“We don’t get very good counts of birds if we don’t have good dew.” Last week, the D.N.R. reported hunters in Iowa shot a record low number of pheasants last year. Around 109,000 pheasants were harvested in 2011 — the fewest since record keeping began in 1962.
Bogenschutz is expecting hunters will see more pheasants this year because of the recent mild winter. “We need about two more years just like this and we’ll probably get back to bird numbers that people expect in Iowa, but it’s going take more than just one year,” Bogenschutz said.
Iowa’s pheasant population dropped to record low territory in 2011 following five winters with above average snowfall and five wetter than normal springs. The D.N.R.’s annual roadside survey is scheduled for August 1-15. The 2012 pheasant hunting season will open October 27.