The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

October 25, 2012

Pheasant numbers up

Mild winter, dry spring led to greater pheasant production

FAIRFIELD — Pheasant numbers are up for the first time in seven years, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, thanks to a mild winter last year and a warm, dry spring.

But Kurt Baker, director of the Wapello County Conservation Board, said while numbers may be up, Iowa is still at historic lows.

“So if it’s up 10 or 15 percent, that’s still pretty much nothing,” he said. “We’re still really, really suffering from three to four hard winters before that.”

Annual roadside counts in August showed an average of eight birds every 30 miles, according to the DNR. That’s up slightly from a record low of 6.8 birds last year.

Baker said it will take a few more mild winters and dry springs to make up for the loss since 2005.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a pheasant around [southeast Iowa],” he said.

Todd Bogenschutz, DNR upland research biologist, said in a news release that hunters could take 125,000 to 200,000 roosters this fall. The pheasant season begins Saturday and continues through Jan. 10, 2013.

When April and May rainfall exceeds 8 inches, pheasant numbers are greatly diminished, Baker said, and that’s what happened the four to five years prior to this year.

“It took five years for Mother Nature to knock us down. We had one good year. I think we need about two more years, getting more hens through the winter and building on that,” Bogenschutz said.

Thankfully, chicks and hens weren’t flooded out of their habitats this year, Baker said.

“It’s so critical during late May and early June to have relatively dry conditions,” he said.

While it was drier this year, that then progressed to the extreme drought experienced statewide this summer.

“Those chicks rely on bugs, and when there’s less green vegetation, there’s less bug production. It’s all connected,” he said.

This year’s roadside survey showed a 9 percent increase in the number of hen pheasants counted over 2011. The chicks per brood — a measure of survival of young pheasants — was up 13 percent, according to the IDNR.

Iowa boasts 1.6 million Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, and could support a harvest of 600,000 to 800,000 pheasants if good weather continues, according to the IDNR. But Baker said the state is losing CRP acres since commodity prices are so high.

“Are we going to have the habitat to support what we once did? The answer to that question is no,” Baker said.

The Iowa Habitat and Access Program (IHAP), started last year, provides 7,000 acres of private land in 41 counties throughout the state, including 151 acres in Mahaska County and 420 acres in Keokuk County.

“They’re modeling programs in South Dakota,” Baker said. “With Iowa having such a low percentage of its land in public ownership, the real issue is accessing private land, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to do that.”

While Baker doesn’t think IHAP’s incentives are great enough right now for landowners to participate, “at least the DNR is trying.”

“For diehard pheasant hunters, it’s going to be another dismal year,” he said. “The DNR is trying to paint the positive, but when we have all-time record lows, we can’t go any lower without setting another record.”

The increase is good, he said, but it’s going to take a lot of these increases to make a difference.

“If we get the right spring and winter weather, the little increases will become a little bit bigger next year and a little bit bigger after that,” he said.

1
Text Only
Wapello County
  • 0617 OTT Wapello Co Fair color photo -L -M Come one, come all to the Wapello County Fair

    ELDON — The Wapello County Fair is just around the corner, kicking off with entries being welcomed at Wapello Hall and the Iowa Agricultural Hall from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. On Thursday, entries for competition will be received from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Siegel, Rubel face off in forum OTTUMWA — For Steve Siegel, a political campaign is nothing new. For Tom Rubel, being the candidate is a first. Now they want the same job. Siegel and Rubel are seeking the Democratic nomination for SD 41, the Iowa Senate district which includes Ottu

    May 29, 2014

  • 0530 OTT Oak tatters picture color Oak leaves left in tatters

    OTTUMWA — Trees throughout Iowa have been terrorized by the likes of Emerald Ash Borer and other dangers in the past months and now oak trees throughout Iowa are in a little bit of more trouble because of a disease called oak tatters. Thankfully, tho

    May 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Help fight hunger OTTUMWA — The groups began with a question: How to better help Wapello County residents who don't have enough decent food. Next week, they'll decide if they've found any answers. The food security project, Growing Wapello Together, had small groups m

    May 28, 2014

  • Attempted murder trial set for July KEOSAUQUA — The Van Buren County man accused of attempted murder could head to trial in a remarkably short time. Dimitrious Royal has a trial date of July 15. If that date is when the trial actually begins, it would take place just more than 11 weeks

    May 28, 2014

  • Agency aces assessment OTTUMWA — A local agency had a lot riding on the outcome of an independent review. They nailed it. "The credential we just received was to show we are a quality [organization]," said Bryan Dunn, executive director of Sieda Community Action. "It's som

    May 27, 2014

  • County backs bike rides OTTUMWA — Bike rides in Wapello County just received a personal push of goodwill from Wapello County Board of Supervisors. Tuesday, supervisors signed a resolution of support for three area bike rides to be conducted in June. The rides include the H

    May 27, 2014

  • 0527 OTT EMS week color photo -L -M ORHC celebrates EMS Week OTTUMWA — During National EMS week, May 18-24, Ottumwa Regional Health Center (ORHC) celebrated its staff, the community EMS providers and the importance of being prepared in emergency situations through education. The ambulance service at ORHC, also

    May 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Moving into the future OTTUMWA — Wapello County Supervisor Greg Kenning joked after the board approved upgrading the county’s servers Tuesday. “You can put away your quills.” Jokes asides, Wapello County will now have more opportunity to maximize its server resources. The

    May 20, 2014

  • 0520 OTT mushroom provided -T -M Hidden treasure

    OTTUMWA — Yes, it's kind of like winning the lottery. A mushroom hunter and her family cheerfully acknowledged that feeling after stopping by the Ottumwa Courier on Monday. In one lucky search, they'd found hundreds of morels totaling 10 pounds. As u

    May 19, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National