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The group set up by Governor Daugarrd to develop a strategy for pheasant habitat repopulation held their first meeting in late February 2014.

The group would have had two contrasting stories to deal with. On one hand, the South Dakota State University would have informed them that approximately 1.8 million acres of South Dakota had been converted to cropland from grassland between 2006 and 2012.

On the other side of the story, the new Farm Bill passed has given funds to improve wetlands, bee habitats and for general conservation. However, as the assistant state conservationist for programs for the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service, Jeff Vander Wilt, has clearly stated – there is nothing in the Bill aimed specifically at pheasant re-population, though a lot of the targets should aid in that Endeavour.

Pheasant populations have declined over the 10 year average by 76%, which is why the Governor had called for a summit and set up the new group to discuss strategies. The group is expected to meet through to June and provide a report on a strategy in late summer.

It should be noted however it is not just human activity which has had an effect on the pheasant populations. Weather has had a significant impact on the destruction of nesting pheasants over the past two years.

However, giving the pheasants more ground to nest upon during cold and wet conditions should aid in the protection of their numbers.

One of the aspects of the new Farm Bill was the $35 million for wetland and grassland conservation. Waterfowl are the primary beneficiaries in this move – however pheasants will also stand to benefit from the conservation of these habitats.

Another example is bee conservation projects. Although not specifically aimed at the birds – honey bees support and create the eco-system that pheasants rely upon.

Yet will these measures be enough or does there need to be a particular strategy addressing the needs of pheasants?

What are your thoughts? Should we have strategies for pheasants or are the complimentary benefits enough?

Let us know in the comments below!


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