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Continued: Anderson: Staying optimistic about the future of pheasants

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 5, 2013 - 5:23 PM

2) Public lands: Minnesota is the big winner here, thanks to the foresight of wildlife managers in the 1950s who began the state’s “Save the Wetlands’’ program. Later this effort morphed into Minnesota’s wildlife management area plan, which in turn inspired establishment of federal waterfowl production areas. Neither Iowa nor South Dakota, nor North Dakota, has the public land base Minnesota has, and when this state figures out how to properly, and extensively, manage these lands, they will yield significantly more game and nongame species than they presently do.

3) Climate: Occasional aberrations aside, including perhaps periodic extreme weather events, the chance that Minnesota and the Dakotas will become more temperate in coming years is better than even, decreasing the chance that winter kill will be a significant limiting factor affecting pheasants going forward. Assuming this occurs, pheasants will be among the winners.

4) Technology: Twenty years from now, if not sooner, agronomists will view the current period as one of agriculture’s darkest moments. The relentless planting of so many corn and soybean acres, and the massive fertilizing they require, will be replaced, or balanced, by new crops with higher yields that reduce land fertility less. The result will be a more balanced landscape that benefits wildlife.

5) Increased consumer demand for healthier food, locally or regionally sourced: This phenomenon, already growing, will increase, and markedly, and will contribute to more varied forms of agriculture and crops. As a corollary, the value of wild game taken at one’s own hand will rise.

6) Increased appreciation of, and stewardship of, prairies and grasslands: Western Minnesota’s wide-open spaces have long suffered by comparison to the state’s North Woods and boundary waters. This will change as the region’s capacity for flood retention, water purification and wildlife diversity are better understood.

7) A coming renaissance in outdoor recreation: The present electronic gadget era notwithstanding, a revolution in the way people spend their time, fueled by nature’s timeless calling, will result in more people than ever spending more time in traditional outdoors pursuits, especially those that enhance physical fitness. Enter long walks on autumn days behind good dogs, looking for roosters.

8) Advocacy unchained: Short story: Too many people love pheasants and the lands that support them, and are too well organized, to let these birds fall by the wayside.

9) What can you do? Join Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, the Izaak Walton League, the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, The Nature Conservancy or another group. Change is coming, and for the better. Be a part of it.

 

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

 

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