The news from South Dakota is grim: The pheasant population index there has fallen 64 percent, a precipitous drop blamed on a cold, wet spring and continued loss of habitat.
The 2013 August roadside report indicates an index of 1.52 pheasants per mile, down from 4.19 pheasants per mile last year.
South Dakota officials tried to put the best spin possible on the bleak numbers, saying the state will still offer the best pheasant hunting experience in the country, and that lower brood counts in 1992 and 1997 still resulted in almost 1 million birds being harvested those years. Last year, hunters harvested about 1.4 million roosters.
A closer look at the results shows some stunning numbers: In the Chamberlain area -- one of the top pheasant areas in the state – officials counted 2.66 pheasants per mile, down 75 percent from the 10.81 counted last year.
The pheasant indexes near Winner, Pierre and Mobridge was down 73 percent, 77 percent and 68 percent, respectively. The indexes for the Aberdeen, Huron and Mitchel areas all were down at least 50 percent.
"The birds have just crashed,'' said Dave Nomsen, vice president of government affairs for Pheasants Forever. "It's a pretty drastic decline. Granted, I think there's still going to be some pretty good hunting in spots, but this clearly is not what we've come to expect from South Dakota.''
Nomsen said pheasants there were hurt by drought last summer, which caused a 50 percent mortality rate in some areas, and by the cold, wet spring and the loss of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands.
"Bingo, it's the perfect storm,'' he said.
The amount of grassland enrolled in CRP has fallen from around 1.7 million acres at the peak to about 800,000 acres, Nomsen said. Those grasslands have been plowed and planted to crops.
Added Nomsen: "This is further need for Congress to get their act together and pass a farm bill'' that includes conservation measures.
Meanwhile, South Dakota officials tried to put the best spin on the report. “Our numbers may be down from last year, but hunters will still be able to find birds," said Travis Runia, the state's lead pheasant biologist.
The results of Minnesota's August roadside pheasant survey will be released Sept. 9.
To read more about the South Dakota report, see http://www.startribune.com/a2467
More from Star Tribune
More from Doug Smith
The DNR says members of the committee will contribute to the broader understanding of biological, social and economic aspects of the lake
The Department of Natural Resources will have field testing stations in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Morrison, Pope, Stearns, Swift and Todd counties.
Results mirror results in Minnesota, South Dakota.
Previously, the DNR said it would wait until an annual fall walleye survey was complete on Mille Lacs before determing whether winter walleye fishing could begin Dec. 1.
Deadline to apply is Sept. 24
Recommended For You
On Mexican soil for the first time as the Republican presidential nominee, a firm but measured Donald Trump defended the right of the United States to build a massive border wall along its southern flank, standing up for the centerpiece of his immigration plan in a country where he is widely despised.
The decision means the $15 minimum wage proposal and a police insurance question will not be on the November ballot. The state's highest court found that neither proposal to amend the city's charter met legal standards.
Twin Cities TV station pulls ad against Mills
It used to be, in an election year, people could proudly wear T-shirts promoting their candidate. This year, I discovered, that is perilous.
Operations must cease by Friday. State pollution officials applaud the judge's action.
Recommended For You
The 22-year-old former starter at Minnesota looks to redeem himself, more than two years after he was involved in a nightclub fight that left a former Minnesota State-Mankato player with a serious brain injury
Apparently, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer still believes players can be motivated by lying over what's being said about them
As a kid, Jay Johnson saw Tony Dungy play at Memorial Stadium. The Lakeville High graduate failed to capture the attention of the Gophers while in high school, ending up at Northern Iowa instead.
The NBC networks are broadcasting more than 6,700 hours of Olympics coverage across 10 channels. Here's a programming and channel guide.
You don't have to make headline-grabbing deals to be successful at the trade deadline. That's how the Twins operated last week, and it could set them up nicely in the near future.