Iowa’s wildlife experts say the state’s pheasant numbers will likely be down this year compared to 2012. Todd Bogenschutz, a wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the state has five decades worth of data on which he can base his predictions.
“That’s what I’ve taken a look at and over the last 50 years, if it’s a mild winter and a warm spring and a dry spring, we do well with pheasants,” Bogenschutz says. “If it’s snowy and/or wet in the spring and cold, they generally don’t tend to do very well and unfortunately, the last year, it’s been the latter and not the former.”
Last year’s prolonged drought was followed by a snowy winter and a chilly spring that was also Iowa’s wettest spring on record. Many bird enthusiasts hoped a warm, dry spring would offset the snowy winter but he says the cold, wet conditions this spring are seen as a contributing factor in the low pheasant hatch numbers.
“Remember, it is just a prediction based on the weather,” Bogenschutz says. “We will do the roadside counts in August where we actually get out there and count broods, so the real gold standard about what the population is going to do is when we release those numbers in early September.”
This year’s pheasant hunting season will begin on October 26th.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City