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South Dakota pheasant numbers plunge

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by wireguy, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    From AMERICAN HUNTER:

    South Dakota Pheasants Take a Nose Dive

    South Dakota's roadside pheasant count is down a shocking 64-percent from last year.

    By Kyle Wintersteen (RSS)

    September 12, 2013

    Following a severe drought in August 2012 and a cold, wet spring, it's no surprise that South Dakota's roadside pheasant count is down. But the dip is so drastic—a 64-percent decrease—that even state biologists are alarmed. The drop equates to hundreds of thousands of fewer birds in southern and central South Dakota.

    South Dakota's Department of Game, Fish, and Parks reported a statewide average of 1.52 pheasants per mile, down from last year's mark of 4.19 birds per mile. Even the famed Aberdeen County is down to 1.7 birds per mile compared to last year's mark of 3.74.

    Plausible causes are varied. Could it have been the cold, wet spring?

    "Pheasants aren't great nesters in cold weather," Nick Cochran, a state conservation officer in Brown County, told the Aberdeen News. "They don't have a lot of plumage, so their eggs can freeze."

    The state also noted few summer insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars, which are a primary food source for pheasant chicks in their first weeks of life.

    Perhaps worst of all, far too much potential pheasant habitat is now tied up in crops, primarily due to the high price of corn (thank you, ethanol). Conservation Reserve Program dollars can simply not compete. And, in this age of economic turmoil, CRP has been slashed dramatically. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's recently announced 45th CRP general signup will accept just 1.7 million acres—its lowest in 26 years. This will only add to the 14.7 million acres of CRP grassland we've lost since 2007.

    South Dakota is not some magic pheasant oasis. If you lose your habitat, you lose your pheasants. Ask any Pennsylvania hunter over 35. Ask any Iowan. And, if we stay the course, I fear we may soon ask South Dakotans.
     
  2. Doug Kennedy

    Doug Kennedy Active Member

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    Wireguy


    The price of corn is 4.30 today
     
  3. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    Doug, as a Californian that means nothing to me. I assume that is a way high per what, bushel price? Meaning all land is planted and growing crops?
     
  4. Doug Kennedy

    Doug Kennedy Active Member

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    Wireguy

    Sorry I didn't make myself clear


    The 4.30 is per bushel. Down from record highs of close to 7.00 a bushel
     
  5. Setterman

    Setterman Well-Known Member

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    Was wondering what the pheasant count was. Not good. 2 of the best farms we usually hunted no longer "plant for hunters". They farm what ever they can.

    Dealing with hunters was really just a pain for them anyway.

    My new setter pup will probably not get her S.D. experience this year.

    And you guys that hunt the clubs....we have a guy in NW Ohio that sent 300,000 birds to S.D. last year.

    It's shame that this heritage is on the cusp of falling off the edge.
     
  6. Remdog1187

    Remdog1187 Well-Known Member

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    The biggest problem now is the corn & beans for fuel expansion. Planting fencerow to fencerow, destroying riparian zones for nesting & cover. Eastern SD is starting to resemble NW Iowa. CRP land is largely diminished. Consecutive severe winters in 09/10 & 10/11, severe drought in 12 and a wet spring in 13 have all contributed to poor hatches. We've been seeing late hatches within the past 5 weeks. Those birds won't be colored by Fall. A lot of birds will be released to cover the difference. There will be pockets in the state that look great, but they are few & far between.

    One positive note is that it's the good old days in SD for waterfowl.
     
  7. Setterman

    Setterman Well-Known Member

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    Remdog....shiss about the ducks! Our secret!
     
  8. YOTESLAYER

    YOTESLAYER Member

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    Hopefully SD doesn't turn into an "Iowa", we have nothing left for pheasants in my area. in the mid 90's they were as thick as flys.
     
  9. psfive

    psfive Member

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    When I was a bit younger we had pheasants in central Nebraska. A limit on a Saturday was not unusual. Not any more it's cheaper to go buy them at around $17.00 per bird. Paul in GINebraska.
     
  10. Shooting Sailor

    Shooting Sailor Well-Known Member

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    This sounds like where I was just moose hunting in central British Columbia. The boys and I were drawn for two bulls in an area I first hunted about 20-25 years ago, and 2 days after being notified, I read the estimates for that Region. Depending on the Management Unit, moose counts are down between 16 and 70 per cent. Guess which end of the scale I hit?

    Opening day, we saw a cow with calf, and saw them again the next day, as well as a muley doe, spike, and fork, and four days later, 2 more does. This in an area where we used to see up to about 15 shootable deer a day, and a moose or six a day. The Mountain Pine Beetle has hit the pine forest BIG TIME, causing miles upon miles of dead standing timber, so it is being logged like mad, opening up the country to road hunters and wolves. A local rancher flagged us down, and wanted to know if we had seen any animals, because he had seen none in six weeks, other than the nine wolves that came right into his yard and up to the house.

    The grouse hunting, on the other hand, was OUTSTANDING. Lots of coveys, some with up to 10 or so birds, and very solid. They gave us loads of time to stop the truck, get guns and ammunition together, then walk up and get within about 50-60 feet before they flushed. Some just sat still and wouldn't flush until we shot some others, so everyone got in on the action. In five days, we shot over 70 birds.