Iowa Pheasant Forecast Mirrors Much of Midwest

We’ve covered, for some time, the downward spiral in Iowa’s
pheasant population. It’s important and newsworthy because the
Hawkeye state has long been one of the best pheasant destinations
in the country, but its imported game birds are struggling to
produce enough offspring to bolster their ranks.

The latest news is not good, as we feel the cooling breezes
of a coming fall and start getting ready to hit the bird fields.
Here is an up-to-the-minute report from the Iowa DNR. As you will
see, pheasant population drops are not exclusive to
Iowa… 

Results of Iowa’s statewide survey of upland game are in and
show a small gain in pheasant numbers in southern Iowa and fewer
birds across northern Iowa. Overall, pheasant hunters will continue
to find better hunting in Iowa’s pheasant belt – northwest, central
and north-central Iowa, and a few more birds in south central and
southwest Iowa.

The Iowa pheasant population has fallen to a new all-time low
with a statewide average of 7 birds counted for each 30 mile route
driven, after a fifth winter in a row with above normal snowfall,
followed by a wet nesting season. The 2010 statewide average was 11
birds per route.

This drop in pheasant numbers is not restricted to Iowa. South
Dakota pheasant population is down 46 percent; Minnesota was down
64 percent and Nebraska counted 20 percent few birds than last
year.

“The last five years have been really frustrating for Iowa hunters
and for the department,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife
research biologist for the DNR. “Plain and simple, we have lost
hens and nests consecutively each of the last five years because of
unprecedented weather patterns for Iowa.”

Parts of the northwest, north central, central and east central
regions reported some fair bird counts in 2011, but small areas
with better pheasant numbers may also be found in other regions.
The 2011 pheasant hunting season runs from October 29 through
January 10, 2012. The full roadside report can be downloaded from
the DNR’s website at http://www.iowadnr.gov/wildlife.

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