Iowa’s annual August roadside pheasant count recorded the highest number of birds in six years.
The statewide average is 17.4 birds per 30-mile route; in 2009, that figure was just 16 birds. Upland wildlife biologist for Iowa DNR Todd Bogenschutz says the weather models didn’t get predictions right this year. Back in February, he said the 2013-2014 winter was a tough one on pheasants because of winter storms. Now, Bogenschutz says this year’s hunting season will be the best it’s been since 2008.
Last year, a record low 40,000 hunters pursued pheasants. The new farm bill passed this year opened up nearly 50,000 acres under a new conservation reserve program called the Iowa Pheasant Recovery.
Pheasants weren’t the only species with surprising numbers. The Iowa DNR also reports partridge, quail, and rabbits also showed increases.