posted on June 08, 2014 08:43
Weather is such an important aspect for pheasant conservation. A harsh winter will often result in a higher bird mortality rate, which with the latest figures is a scenario hunters and conservationists everywhere want to avoid.
Yet a good winter can support the birds by maintaining a group of healthy hens, which inevitably leads to larger clutches of eggs. The more eggs there are, the more chicks which are born and survive leading to a population increase.
The winter of 2013-2014 was mixed depending on where you were in the country. For many there was a harsh winter which would have made the beloved birds suffer. Yet in the Dakotas it was relatively mild.
In North Dakota, the winter was early and extreme, though as the season progressed it seemed to become milder and there was a lack of snow on the ground in many of the feeding areas. This meant there was little stress on the population with easy to access food.
The lack of snow may have one undesirable effect, the state of North Dakota maybe heading into a mini drought. The weather conditions over the next month and month and half will determine if this is to be the case or not.
If there is a late snowstorm, which is possible, it could cause a real problem for the bird populations. But the North Dakota authorities are attempting to make way for new habitat for the birds with the $1.9 million grant it has recently received through the state’s Outdoor Heritage Fund.
South Dakota also received much less snow than expected, with levels at about 50% of normal. This is good news for the bird population as survival rates will have increased.
It is also a good sign for nesting hens in the coming breeding season.
South Dakota hunters will hope this winter’s good fortune, coupled with Dennis Daugaard’s conservation efforts, will support pheasant populations and reverse the decline which has happened in recent years.
What is your opinion of the winter that has just been?
Let us know in the comments below.