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North Dakota, like much of the plains and the Midwest, had a prolonged winter in 2012-2013. Things remained cold and wet well into April and May. It’s made things difficult for farmers when the time came and went to get in the fields for planting.

The winter and spring weather has also put pressure on wildlife including pheasants.

One of the ways North Dakota officials track pheasant numbers early in the seasons is with the crowing number counts in the spring. This year the crowing numbers are down across the state. The range of counts being down goes from only 2 percent in the northwest to 18 percent in the northeast.

It had actually be a great winter for wildlife in North Dakota this year. Experts were expecting the crowing counts to be high this year. But then spring came and late snow storms blew their way through the state leaving things very difficult for wildlife.

The crowing count is used to help gauge the measure of birds, but it’s not an exact science. In fact, the nesting season could have simply been delayed and there could still be a high number of birds in the state come the fall pheasant hunting season.

Brood surveys will begin taking place in mid and late July. Those counts will provide a much better indication of where the pheasant population is in North Dakota for the 2013 hunting season.

The hope is that the challenging spring only delayed the nesting season a few weeks. There could be younger birds out there this fall, but there could still be a high number of birds for hunters.

Until we know more we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that we get some good counts later this summer. Right now the counts are down, but there is still hope for things to work out when it really matters.

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