Doug Smith

Even if the fish aren’t biting, the ducks aren’t flying and the pheasants aren’t flushing, Doug Smith says any day spent outdoors is a good day. A Minnesota native, he’s been covering the outdoors for the Star Tribune since 1995. He considers walleyes fried over a campfire to be gourmet cuisine.

More of the same: N.D. reports declining pheasant population, too

Posted by: Doug Smith Updated: September 10, 2013 - 5:40 PM

It's a trifecta: North Dakota has joined Minnesota and South Dakota in reporting a declining pheasant population.

North Dakota officials said ringnecks are down 30 percent from last year. Earlier this week, Minnesota reported a 29 percent decline, and last week South Dakota reported a 64 percent drop in pheasant numbers.

“Poor production this spring resulted in fewer young birds added to the population and a lower fall population in all areas of the state,” said  Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department,

The number of broods was down 29 percent and the average brood size was down 10 percent.

Kohn cited continued land-use changes in the prime pheasant range, including removal of Conservation Reserve Program acres, grasslands converted to croplands and small grain fields converted to row crops; and continuous wet spring weather.

“Earlier this summer we thought it was possible that nesting season was delayed enough to avoid an influence from the cold, wet spring,” Kohn said, “but it now appears that wasn’t the case.”

Kohn said even though statistics reveal bird numbers are down statewide, there will still be local areas with good pheasant populations. 

Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate the number of birds observed was down 25 percent from 2012, and the number of broods was down 22 percent. Observers counted 15 broods and 126 birds per 100 survey miles. The average brood size was 5.8.

Results from the southeast showed birds are down 43 percent from last year, and the number of broods down 42 percent. Observers counted five broods and 49 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 5.9. 

Statistics from the northwest indicated pheasants are down 39 percent from last year, with broods down 32 percent. Observers recorded six broods and 48 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 5.5.

The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat with much of it lacking good winter cover, showed one brood and seven birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 4.7. Number of birds observed was down 35 percent, and the number of broods recorded was down 33 percent.

The 2013 regular pheasant season opens Oct. 12 and continues through Jan. 5, 2014. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Oct. 5-6.

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