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South Dakota’s roadside survey has shown that there was a 76% increase in the pheasant population from the 2013 count. This has allowed the state to still boast impressive hunting opportunities for those looking to bag themselves a pheasant.

However, news from other states demonstrates pheasant populations have recovered well across many areas of the United States. For instance, Iowa’s population rebounded by an amazing 151% and Nebraska’s population improved by 19%. In Nebraska, there was further cause for celebration as the Bobwhite Quail count concluded this popular small game bird has made a big comeback; especially in the South-Eastern counties of the state.

One of the major factors behind the increase in populations this year has been the weather. The milder winter and a good spring has allowed for better brood production by hens.

However, hunters should be cautious to celebrate too early. Good weather tends to only lead to short term population gains and only an improvement in the habitat will yield a significant and long term population gain.

Also, there are some suggestions that the population boom in Iowa might not be as high as reported. Todd Bogenschutz states that although the count suggests a six year peak in the pheasant population, there is the potential that poorly conducted roadside counts in 2012 and 2013 have contributed to an underestimated pheasant population count in previous years. If that is the case; the population boom isn’t near as high as experts have thought.

Iowa is also suffering from a decline in hunting numbers. Last year only 41,000 hunters took to the fields and they harvested 166,000 roosters. So, although the birds’ populations aren’t at their peak levels, there are several underutilized hunting opportunities throughout Iowa.

The state is even considering enrolling more land in habitat conservation programs so that pheasant numbers and hunting opportunities improve for the foreseeable future. This has been helped by another $3 million grant.

With the help of the local chapters of Pheasants Forever, it is hoped that there is a continuing trend of improved pheasant populations.

Do you go hunting in Iowa? How can South Dakota achieve the same population growth?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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