BOONE - The four year trend of above average snowfall and cool, wet springs and shrinking habitat to escape those conditions continues to take its toll on Iowa pheasants and quail. Results from the 2010-11 survey of small game hunters determined an estimated 238,000 pheasants and 11,600 quail were harvested in Iowa - both establishing new records.
"Based on our roadside surveys, our bird numbers were down 30 percent from 2009 so we expected to see a lower harvest and fewer small game hunters and we did," said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Bogenschutz said hunters spent an average of nearly seven days hunting pheasants and averaged harvesting four birds. Hunter success was highest through the first two weekends of the season, which was also the peak of participation, but hunters who went out later in the year had little competition for places and birds to hunt.
Iowa also remains a destination for pheasant hunters, hosting hunters from 41 different states, with most coming from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri.
"We do have some good places to hunt pheasants around the state. What we really need is less snow and warm, dry springs," Bogenschutz said. "I can't emphasize enough the need for habitat. Pheasants have a better chance of surviving the snowfall and spring rain if they have good habitat near food sources. We can't control the weather, but if we can keep secure habitats on the landscape we can provide the birds a place to escape."