ND officials expect worst pheasant year since 2001BISMARCK (AP) — Fewer pheasants mean hunters in North Dakota could bag fewer than half a million roosters for the first time in a decade, state officials said.
BISMARCK (AP) — Fewer pheasants mean hunters in North Dakota could bag fewer than half a million roosters for the first time in a decade, state officials said.
A roadside survey conducted in late July and August found the pheasant population was down 36 percent statewide from last year. Brood surveys, which are considered the best indicator of pheasant production, showed a 38 percent drop.
“Brood survey numbers from this summer match closely to numbers from 2001, when hunters harvested 420,000 roosters,” said Stan Kohn, state Game and Fish Department spokesman. "If fall weather conditions hold through most of the year, I could see a fall harvest of about 400,000 birds.
“But if winter sets in early, we could be much lower.”
Pheasant counts show the most in southwestern North Dakota, Kohn said. While the number of birds and broods were down 26 percent in that area, that's less of a decline than elsewhere.
Wildlife officials attribute the low numbers to three straight difficult winters with above average snowfall, wet conditions during peak hatch in three of the last four years, and the loss of nesting habitat as the result of Conversation Reserve Program acreage being removed from the pheasant range.
“Boiled down, hunters will likely have to put in more time to find success,” Kohn said.
The regular pheasant hunting season opens Oct. 8 and continues through Jan. 8. A two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend is scheduled for Oct. 1-2.