Iowa pheasant hunters may have fewer targets when the next season rolls around this fall. Due to the cold, snowy winter and the wet spring, forecast models predict much of Iowa will see the pheasant population stagnate or fall. Todd Bogenschutz, a wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says some parts of the state may see a boost in the bird numbers, while other areas will drop.
The nesting forecast will be updated with the D-N-R’s August roadside survey, which he says is the best gauge of what pheasant hunters can expect to find in the fall. Despite the weather, Bogenschutz says he’s encouraged by passage of the new Farm Bill and actions earlier this week to boost preservation of pheasant habitat with landowners enrolling in the Conservation Reserve Program, or C-R-P.
With high commodity prices and the growing demand for ethanol, Bogenschutz says many farmers have been converting former grassland bird habitats to farm fields. The D-N-R says hunters shot roughly 158-thousand pheasants in Iowa last year. Back in 2011, about 109-thousand pheasants were harvested in Iowa, the lowest number since the state began keeping track in 1962.