Iowa Roadside Survey Shows Grim Pheasant Numbers

From this story in the Ames Tribune:
_The 2010 August Upland Wildlife Roadside Survey, conducted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, indicates pheasant populations across Iowa are 29 percent lower when compared to last year.

Statewide, DNR staff saw an average of 11 birds per route in 2010, compared to 16 per route last year. In central Iowa, the numbers dropped 41 percent, from 19 birds per route in 2009 to 11 birds this year.

__The number of pheasant, quail and cottontail rabbits represents new record low counts for Iowa. Quail numbers dropped 70 percent statewide, and cottontails dropped 38 percent, including 63 percent in central Iowa. Partridge numbers fell 21 percent statewide.

The results were not a surprise given that Iowa had experienced one its worst winters in state history, and the fourth in a series of bad winters, said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the DNR. "Couple this with the statewide flooding we experienced again this spring and summer and the only direction our numbers could go is down," he said. Based on this year's roadside counts, Iowa pheasant hunters should harvest between 150,000 and 200,000 roosters this fall. Parts of northwest and north-central regions of Iowa reported some of the better bird counts in 2010, but small, localized areas of good pheasant numbers may also be found in other regions.

"We understand our hunters' frustration over the last four years, but changing hunting regulations or habitat programs will not alter what Mother Nature has been throwing at us," Bogenschutz said. "We have lost hens and chicks consecutively each of the last four years due to bad winters and/or wet nesting seasons."_