Pheasant Hunting Forecast mostly positive for Great Lakes region

(Pheasants Forever)

WisconsinPennsylvania and Michigan have seen gains in pheasant populations – and, ultimately, hunting possibilities – for 2017, while Minnesota showed a decrease.

That’s according to the Pheasants Forever 2017 Pheasant Hunting Forecast, which was released recently.

While record snowfalls and a severe drought in 2017 contributed to significant bird population decreases in parts of the Midwest, expanses of the West and Great Plains show positive signs for the season ahead, account to a Pheasants Forever news release on the forecast.

The release went on to say that future pheasant hunting prospects will rely heavily on the quantity and quality of grassland habitat available, stressing the importance of the 2018 Farm Bill and the resolve of upland hunters to advocate and contribute to the work of habitat conservation.

According to the forecast, Wisconsin hunters should look forward to increased bird populations for the fall of 2017, particularly in the western counties of Barron, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk and St. Croix. An early spring for the state showed an 82 percent increase in pheasant production for Wisconsin’s primary pheasant range, as well as an increase in pheasants broods of 8.8 percent from 2016, according to the release.

It went on to say that Michigan’s mail carrier survey showed an increase in brood numbers (132 in 2017 vs. 86 in 2016) and higher numbers than any previous survey in the years of 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016. Habitat works, and the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative is living proof, so hunters can expect increased pheasant opportunities in Michigan this fall, the release said.

In the Upper Midwest, states such as North Dakota and South Dakota witnessed inclement winter weather and a prolonged summer drought that spelled disaster for growing pheasant broods, while Minnesota and Iowa roadside counts showed a decrease in population. Although the news is not favorable, things are not all gloom-and-doom for these hunters.

South Dakota still manages the most robust pheasant population in the world, according to the release, with a preseason population somewhere between six and seven million pheasants. With ample public access opportunities, blocks of quality habitat will still produce a bumper crop of roosters, the forecast said.

Iowa’s roadside count was undoubtedly affected by dry weather – no dew equates to little reason for birds to make an appearance on gravel, the release said. Reports from landowners, Pheasants Forever members and agency biologists in the state suggest the pheasant population is strong for this fall. Additionally, Iowa is preparing for its best quail hunting season since the mid-1980s, the release said.

For a state-by-state outlook, click here.

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