Hunters planning on seeing increased pheasant population numbers this fall are likely to be disappointed. The Department of Natural Resources recently completed the statewide survey and it showed the Iowa pheasant population has fallen to a new all-time low, with a statewide average of 7 birds counted for each 30 mile route driven. The statewide average in 2010 was 11 birds per route.
The survey showed a small gain in pheasant numbers in southern Iowa and fewer birds across northern Iowa. This past winter was the fifth in a row with above normal snowfall followed by a wet nesting season. Todd Bogenschutz, a wildlife biologist with the DNR summed it up best “Plain and simple, we have lost hens and nests consecutively each of the last five years because of unprecedented weather patterns for Iowa.”
The drop in the pheasant numbers is also being felt in neighboring states. Nebraska counted 20 percent fewer birds than last year; Minnesota was down 64 percent and South Dakota is down 46 percent.
The 2011 pheasant hunting season runs from October 29 through January 10, 2012.