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31

Iowa’s state government is pushing hard to create and maintain a habitat that allows pheasants and other small game to thrive, but the state’s economy is pushing back.

Farming is a key piece to Iowa’s economy, and it’s unfortunate that they have to directly compete with the state’s recreation industry. Lately, it has become much more profitable to turn hunting land into farm fields. Over the last twenty years, Iowa has lost more than 1.6 million acres of habitat to farmers and other businesses that profit off of the land.

While the government has created a program in which it pays landowners to create habitats suitable for pheasants, the rise in corn and land prices, coupled with a decreasing state budget, has made it difficult for them to keep pace.

Most of Iowa’s farmers understand the importance of allowing natural habitats to grow and thrive, but they also have to make a living. With such a heavy economic burden being placed on the farming industry, it’s no surprise that all the good hunting land is disappearing. And as the pheasants disappear with the land, so do the hunters.

According to the New York Times, “Iowa hunters shot 108,905 pheasants in 2011, compared with more than a million in 2003.”

Such a drastic disparity hardly gives hope to local hunters that the industry is going to pick back up any time soon. Many hunters, because land has become so limited in their state, have started traveling to other states to get their pheasant-hunting fix. And unfortunately, this will only worsen the already dismal economic impact of pheasant hunting in their home state.

New government programs are continuing to work to create a larger habitat for pheasants and other small game in Iowa, but in the meantime, Iowa hunters are going to have to be even more patient than normal this year while chasing their birds.

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