The story mentioned landowners will soon have the opportunity to compete for a new CRP signup. Some landowners have asked when this will occur. No signup has been announced for sure, but USDA will have enough acres available to have a general CRP signup in 2010.
08/05/2009 @ 08:35 AM Contributed by: bigjake Views:: 4,709
By Lowell Washburn
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
PHOTO: Mother Hen ---- A hen pheasant and her newly hatched brood of chicks dry off at the edge of a CRP grassland.
Currently in progress, the DNR’s annual August roadside pheasant count easily ranks as our most popular fish and wildlife survey. Although upcoming results of the spring nesting seasons have always been of great interest to Iowans, that interest may have never been higher than it is this summer.
Times are tough. After enduring a recent series of long hard winters, above average snowfall, abnormally wet and cool spring nesting seasons, unprecedented flooding during 2008, and a catastrophic ongoing loss of habitat, it is little wonder that Iowa pheasant numbers have fallen.
During the 2008 hunting season, the state’s pheasant harvest plunged to a dismal 383,000 roosters which was the lowest ever recorded. No surprise that pheasant hunters are currently on the edge of their seats wondering what to expect when this year’s season rolls around at the end of October.
“Habitat and weather are the two factors that always determine pheasant populations,” says DNR Pheasant Biologist, Todd Bogenschutz. “Unfortunately, neither of those factors have been pheasant friendly during the last few years.”
07/23/2009 @ 06:00 AM Contributed by: bigjake Views:: 3,396
The Iowa DNR's annual survey of upland game populations will soon be under way with state biologists and conservation officers driving more than 200, 30-mile roadside routes across the state.
The August Roadside Survey, as it is called, takes place between August 1 and 15 each year and is the DNR's main tool for determining if the fall populations will be up or down from the previous year, said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the DNR.
Routes start at sunrise on mornings with heavy dew and are driven primarily on gravel roads because of the lower traffic. A heavy dew causes hens to move their broods to the gravel roadsides to dry off before feeding, allowing them to be counted easily. Routes are driven over the same roads each year so that the information is comparable with previous years.
Has Iowa’s sagging pheasant population hit bottom? Reviewing weather data from this past winter and spring, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz is cautiously optimistic. “Our pheasant population typically shows increases following mild winters and springs that are drier and warmer than normal. Pheasant numbers could increase 20-40 percent this year,” he said.
That forecast follows the lowest pheasant harvest on record in Iowa. Hunters took just 383,000 ring-necked roosters in the 2008-09 season; following one of the snowiest winters and one of the wettest springs in Iowa history.
For 2009, though, an average winter and spring are good news as the pheasant hatch heads into its mid-June peak. “At this point, it is likely we will have good populations in northwest, north central and west central Iowa, with better populations in the remainder of the state, compared to 2008,” notes Bogenschutz. “These regions will still show pheasant numbers below what hunters would like to see, though.”
DES MOINES – Based on results of licensed hunters who pursued small game in Iowa, an estimated 383,000 rooster pheasants were harvested during the 2008-09 season, the lowest total on record and marking only the second time since 1958, Iowa’s pheasant harvest did not reach 500,000 roosters.
Unfortunately for Iowa pheasant hunters, both times happened within the last eight years, and both followed winters rated among the most severe in Iowa’s history.
“The good news is that so far, we are having a good nesting season and if the weather holds through the middle of June, our pheasant population could see an increase of up to 20 percent,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “There are three factors to having a good pheasant population: a mild winter; a warm and dry spring and large chunks of habitat. Missing one of those can impact the population. Unfortunately in the past 10 years, the trends for all these factors have been mostly negative.”
Bogenschutz said he was not too surprised with the harvest totals because he saw a preview in the annual August roadside survey.
That poor pheasant forecast also may have led to fewer hunters taking to the field. Based on the hunter survey, an estimated 86,000 hunters pursued pheasants, which is an all time low in Iowa.
04/18/2009 @ 06:00 AM Contributed by: bigjake Views:: 4,437
Boone – Each winter, food plots of corn, sorghum, or other grains are used by all kinds of wildlife to help them survive. Well-designed food plots also provide important cover and additional food to help pheasant, quail, and other wildlife survive, especially during a period of heavy snow.
“There have been few documented cases of pheasants actually starving to death in Iowa,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa DNR. “Virtually all of Iowa’s winter mortality is attributed to severe winter storms with the birds freezing to death.” With next winter in mind, now is the time to begin planning food plots.
So why plant food plots for pheasants if they seldom starve in winter? First, food plots provide winter habitat as well as food. In fact, if properly designed and large enough, the habitat created by a food plot is much more beneficial to wildlife than the food itself. Second, food plots allow pheasants to obtain a meal quickly thereby limiting their exposure to predators and maximizing their energy reserves.
04/12/2009 @ 06:00 AM Contributed by: bigjake Views:: 3,543
There is a growing concern over the lack of pheasants in the Hawkeye State after the severe winter and the wet spring in of 2007-08 took its toll on hens and washed out the nests of hens that did make it to spring.
“We lost a lot of hens the winter before this past one and nesting was very poor with all the flooding last summer,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for DNR. “For pheasant numbers to bounce back we need some more average winter and spring weather, rather than record setting stuff that we saw last year.”
12/30/2008 @ 11:32 AM Contributed by: bigjake Views:: 2,953
From the IDNR
BOONE - Many Iowa residents are becoming concerned about Iowa's upland game populations with the recent snowfall and ice across much of Iowa. Preliminary information from the National Climatic Data Center through Dec. 29 shows that Iowa has received an average of 18 inches of snow since Dec 1, while several northeast Iowa towns have seen 20 to 30 inches of snow already this winter.
Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said he is most concerned about the ice covering a larger portion of the state. “It is upwards of an inch thick in some areas and impossible for pheasant and quail to scratch through,” he said. In a normal winter, Iowa receives an average of 25 inches of snow and has seven weeks of snow cover.
“Our research on wild hens shows we lose about three percent of our hen population for each week of snow cover,” said Bogenschutz. “This is not a serious winter yet, but with three months of winter remaining we could experience high bird mortality if the ice conditions persist another eight to twelve weeks, without a significant thaw to melt existing ice.”
The birds are highly visible now searching for food above the ice, and people are calling with concerns. “Many folks are asking me if they should feed the birds, and the answer is that we do not recommend people feed the birds in most situations because it concentrates the birds for predators. It also does not address the bigger issue facing the birds and that is the lack of secure roosting cover,” he said.
The DNR does not supply food for feeding wildlife, but if people feel the need to feed the birds themselves, the DNR offers these guidelines:
Keep the food adjacent to good winter cover (cattails, switchgrass, or conifers) and away from tall trees that serve as raptor perches, scatter the food so as to keep the birds dispersed throughout the habitat.
Do not put food on the road as it increases the risks of vehicle collisions.
Once feeding begins it MUST continue throughout the remainder of the winter, as the animals become dependant upon it rather than seeking out other food and cover sources.
Perhaps the best advice is to contact your local DNR biologist or Pheasants Forever chapter and plan a food plot or other winter habitat for the birds for next year. “A little advanced planning is the best defense the birds have against Mother Nature come next winter,” said Bogenschutz.
BOONE - Iowa pheasant hunters are turning to areas with more robust cover to find pheasants after the recent snow and blowing snow filled in road ditches and fence lines. Look for fields enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, rows of conifers or shrubs located next to crop fields as places to be holding the most pheasants.
Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said pheasant hunting has been good where the August bird counts were better including in north central and northwest Iowa, and more difficult in areas where the counts were lower, like in north east, east central, southeast, southwest and south central parts of the state.
The Iowa corn harvest is coming to a close in southern Iowa. Hunters should be looking for pheasants filling their crops in the morning and evening on waste grain in these fields. Iowa’s pheasant season runs through Jan. 10, 2009.