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South Dakota has a problem. For a state considered to be the pheasant capitol of the United States, it is suffering from declining pheasant populations. The blame is often pointed to the reduction of natural habitat due to farming pressures and poor weather limiting brooding season.

While the numbers in 2014 surveys increased slightly from 2013; the numbers have not come close to the populations experienced 10 years ago.

Pheasant hunting is very important for the state’s revenue, contributing over 200 million dollars annually. That is why last year Gov. Dennis Daugaard set-up a pheasant habitat work group to look into what could be done to save the populations of pheasants. The group has now reported its findings and made suggestions.

The first recommendation from the group is to facilitate better communication and collaboration between conservation partners. This would be helpful in improving resource allocation and maximizing the impact of conservation efforts.

Some of the other suggestions from the group included the creation of a habitat central website and the development and implementation of a new conservation program. The group also wants to set up a petition for the US Department of Agriculture to allow all the South Dakota counties to be eligible for crop insurance coverage on winter wheat.

A final highlight in their findings is the establishment of a South Dakota Conservation Fund. This fund would support the efforts being made by groups like Pheasants Forever. Aberdeen businessman Tim Kessler, who was a member of the work group, has already pledged $100,000 towards the launching of this fund.

It is hoped these measures will be the first steps to increase the natural habitat of the favored game bird and help the population recover.

Whether any of these actions will have a positive effect on the pheasant population remains to be seen. However, results do need to be quick as the 10 year average continues to decline.

Do you think these measures are enough? What is your response to the group’s findings?

Let us know in the comments below.


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