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Iowa Pheasant Numbers Down; Good Hunting Still Available

BOONE - The Iowa pheasant population declined 22 percent over the past year, despite having a nearly average winter and spring nesting weather conditions. The lower pheasant count was discovered during the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) annual August roadside survey.

Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the DNR who is in charge of the survey, said for whatever reason, the weather conditions were not optimal for good pheasant recruitment across much of the pheasant range in 2006. The pheasant population in Kansas and South Dakota is lower and is status quo in Minnesota and Illinois.

"Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when I looked at the weather data," he said. Based on the population survey, Bogenschutz said hunters in Iowa could expect to harvest between 700,000 and 750,000 roosters this season.

The survey found higher pheasant numbers in northwest, north-central and central Iowa. The Iowa pheasant season is Oct. 28 through Jan. 10, 2007. Shooting hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The daily bag limit is 3 rooster [male] pheasants and the possession limit is 12. The Iowa youth season is Oct. 21 to 22, with a daily bag limit of one rooster and possession limit of two. Shooting hours for the youth season are the same as in the regular pheasant season.

Other species included in the roadside survey had mixed results. Bobwhite quail numbers were up from 2005, with the better hunting in southeast Iowa, followed by south central and southwest. Partridge numbers were down 29 percent, with better counts in north central and northeast Iowa.

The cottontail rabbit population is nearly identical as in 2005, again, with southern Iowa leading the way. Cottontail hunters should focus on Montgomery, Adair, Adams, Taylor, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Wayne, Davis, Jefferson and Van Buren counties.

The August roadside survey generates data from 215, 30-mile routes on ring-necked pheasants, bobwhite quail, gray partridge, cottontail rabbits and white-tailed jackrabbits. The routes are driven over the same roads each year to maintain consistency from year to year. Go to then click on wildlife to view the entire survey.

For more information, contact Bogenschutz at 515-432-2823.

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