The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks Pheasant Brood Survey Report showed that the number of pheasants per mile decreased 17% since last year, but those numbers don’t reflect the data’s uncertainty, which is why state officials are working toward changing how that information is conveyed to the public.
Travis Runia, upland game biologist with the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks, said there won’t be any direct changes to the survey itself, but “there might be some changes to how we convey the information to the public.”
Runia said during a phone interview Wednesday, Oct. 16, that the department tries to paint the best picture they can with the results from the survey, but noted that there’s always uncertainty in that data.
The changes to how that data will be presented are more related to when the survey reveals small changes from one year to the next, Runia said.
“The report breaks down the numbers in the local area and basically looks at the results for a 60-mile radius, and a lot of those are only plus or minus 15% from last year,” Runia explained. “In all reality, hunters aren’t going to be able to notice that small of a change. If you saw 100 pheasants one year and you see 85 the next year, it’s a really small change.”
Runia noted that he could not say what the changes would be, as they are just in the early discussion phase right now.
"As far as I know, there won’t be any changes to how the longstanding survey is done in the field,” he added.
According to Jim Hagen, secretary for the South Dakota Department of Tourism, the out-of-state hunters he’s spoken with throughout the years look more at the number of pheasants harvested in past years than the brood count.
"We’ve seen no difference. We have as many excited hunters contacting us as we have in the past,” Hagen said.
“They really look at the harvest that we have occurring every year. We had close to a million birds harvested last year,” he said, adding that the hunters he’s spoken with recently were excited about the experience and the friendliness of all those who live in South Dakota.