Finally: Iowa Pheasants Up After 7-Year Decline

There's finally some good news for Iowa pheasant hunters: For the first time in seven years, the annual August roadside count indicates an increase in the state's pheasant population. The decline has been blamed largely on habitat loss. However, plain bad luck—such as harsh winters and spring flooding—has also played a role.

This year's count indicates an index of 7.9 pheasants per 30-mile strip, up 16 percent over last year's record low index of 6.6. Still, biologists hoped for more.

“It’s movement in the right direction. I expected an increase but was hoping for a larger one,” Todd Bogenschutz, upland game biologist for the Iowa DNR, told The Gazette.

Based on excellent spring nesting conditions and the estimated number of birds that survived the winter, Bogenschutz had expected closer to a 40 percent increase; however, he says the pheasants may have been undercounted, because the drought plaguing the Midwest caused poor counting conditions.

Regardless, Bogenschutz told The Gazette that based on the 2012 pheasant index, he expects a hunter-harvest of 125,000 to 200,000 roosters, well above last year's record low harvest of 109,000 birds.

Just how much have wild pheasants declined over the years in the Hawkeye State? In the '60s and '70s, hunters shot about 1.5 million roosters per year, and roadside indexes averaged in the 50's.

So, this year's population increase was very much needed. Let's hope it's a sign of things to come. The Iowa pheasant season opens on Oct. 27.

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1 Response to Finally: Iowa Pheasants Up After 7-Year Decline

DSMbirddog wrote:
September 12, 2012

I hope it's a good sign too. It has really been bad the last few years.