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Hunters Should Check Out Habitat Prior to the Pheasant Hunting Season

PIERRE, S.D.—As South Dakota’s pheasant season approaches, hunters should take the time to scout their favorite public hunting areas to assess how the drought has impacted habitat.

“Even with the drought, brood survey results show a slight drop in the pheasant population statewide,” said Bill Smith, S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department senior wildlife biologist. “Just as pheasant populations were affected most in drought areas, hunters can expect that the dry conditions also were tough on habitat.”

Of particular concern are those areas enrolled simultaneously in the Conservation Reserve Program and the GFP Walk-In Area Program. Federal emergency drought relief allowed grazing or haying of CRP land. While these actions are an understandable given the severity of this year’s drought, Smith noted, they do have an impact wildlife habitat.

GFP puts a high value on strong relationships with landowners when it comes to managing the state’s wildlife. This is especially true for farmers and ranchers who enroll their land in the Walk-In Area Program.

“There are no winners in this drought,” Smith said. “Many farmers, including some Walk-In Area cooperators, needed additional livestock feed and hayed their CRP land. These Walk-In cooperators understood that GFP payments are closely linked to the habitat on their enrolled lands and that their payment for this year would be adjusted.”

Hunters are also reminded that some Walk-In Areas may have been withdrawn from the program after the printing of GFP’s Walk-In Atlas. Hunters can check on the status of their favorite Walk-In Areas on the GFP Web site at and checking the link to “WIA Deletions.”

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