Iowa’s roadside count showed the second straight year of increasing pheasant numbers. The statewide index of 24 birds per route represented a 37 percent increase over last year and a 260 percent increase over the all-time low set in 2013. The highest concentration of birds occurred in the northwest.
“Several favorable winters have helped us recover bird numbers statewide,” says Todd Bogenschutz, upland game biologist and farmland coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “The pheasant index in the northwest, central, and southeast regions is at or above the long-term average. So where pheasant habitat is available, hunting should be pretty good in these regions. Counts improved in most other regions, and hunting should be better than last year. But the number of birds will be less than the long-term average.”
The statewide index is the highest it has been in eight years—before five consecutive winters with more than 30 inches of snow drove pheasants to the lowest numbers ever.
But while this year’s roadside index is 52 percent above the 10-year average, it remains some 40 percent below the long-term average, reflecting deleterious changes in farming in much of the state’s pheasant range.
“We continue to lose habitat, particularly CRP, like many other Midwest states, but with lower crop prices we are seeing strong interest among landowners for CRP on marginal lands,” says Bogenschutz. State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), a continuous CRP practice, has enrolled over 100,000 acres statewide.
October 31, 2015 through January 10, 2016
Youth Season Dates:
October 24 & 25
Daily Bag Limit:
The state received a new Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program grant from USDA to expand the Iowa Habitat and Access Program
to over 20,000 acres in the next several years.