June is here Iowa’s pheasant hatch is at its peak. So what can Iowa’s hunters expect this coming season?
“This year, unfortunately, we are predicting a decline in bird numbers,” says Todd Bogenschutz, a DNR upland wildlife biologist. “Our pheasant population typically shows increases following mild winters and dry, warm springs. This past winter, while starting mild, ended with a vengeance.”
Many bird enthusiasts were hoping a warm, dry spring would offset the snowy winter. Unfortunately this year’s nesting season (April/May) has been record-setting for cold temperatures and rainfall. Statewide, nesting season rainfall was 15.4 inches, and temperatures were 4.1 degrees cooler than normal. Iowa’s pheasant population has never seen a spring this wet since they were established in the state back in the 1920s.
Based on this weather data, Bogenschutz predicts Iowa’s statewide pheasant population will be lower than in 2012. However, Bogenschutz says the DNR’s August roadside survey is the best gauge of what populations are. The DNR will post its August roadside numbers on the DNR webpage www.iowadnr.gov around September 15. Those with e-mail can sign-up on the DNR’s website to be notified when the roadside survey has been completed.
The DNR makes pre-season pheasant population predictions each year based on winter and spring weather conditions as reported by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The predictions are correct about 8 years out of 10.
Progress is being made on habitat for pheasants, says Bogenschutz. Iowa was awarded a new continuous CRP program targeted specifically for pheasants. The program is called Iowa Pheasant Recovery (CP38) with 50,000 acres available. The DNR also works jointly with Pheasants Forever chapters in Iowa to enhance pheasant habitat across the state. Iowa landowners are encouraged to visit a DNR biologist or USDA office for more information on pheasants and CRP.