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05

Pheasant hunters in Nebraska are going to reap the benefits of the recent drought this fall with more pheasants.

Results from the annual April survey of rural mail carriers, have shown that there has been a large increase in the number of ring-necked pheasant populations across the state. According to the figures, the numbers could have risen as high as 143% from last year.

The figures announced by Scott Taylor, the wildlife administrator for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will be a welcome relief for many hunters who have suffered from poor harvests in recent years.

According to Taylor in the upland game report, the drought in the state has helped wildlife by creating more bare ground. When the rains do come back, the open spaces will recover with a diverse group of plants including weeds and prairie flowers. This will be a much better habitat for pheasants and other game birds.

One of the benefits is that pheasant chicks will use the weeds and flowers as a protective canopy as they feed on local insects.

In some areas of the region, populations have increased by 93%, whereas in other areas like the Panhandle, the population growth has been recorded at an astonishing rate of 251%.

The only area of the state that saw a decrease was the northeast, which saw a decline of 2%.

The reason for the decline in this area has been firmly placed on the reduction of lands being enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program. This has happened because farmers are trying to take advantage of the high prices for corn, soybeans and other commodity crops.

According to the latest reports, Nebraska has gone from 1.4 million acres enrolled in the CRP to just 800,000 acres now. It is expected another 200,000 will be lost in the next four years.

What are your expectations for the next hunting season? Have you noticed a population explosion recently?

Let us know in the comments.


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