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Pheasants, quail, cottontail rabbits, and squirrels are Iowa's most popular upland game species. The Upland Wildlife Research Unit monitors yearly harvest and populations, as well as providing information to landowners and hunters.
Each year the Iowa Department of Natural Resources uses a roadside survey to assess its upland game populations. The August Roadside Survey, as it is called, is conducted on sunny calm, mornings, with a heavy dew on the grass, between August 1st-15th of each year with results posted in September. Most upland wildlife, particularly pheasants, hate to be wet. On mornings with a heavy dew, hen pheasants bring their broods to the roadsides to dry off before they begin feeding. This natural tendency allows the birds to be counted and reproduction can be evaluated by counting the number of broods seen and their size.
Survey routes are 30 miles long and are entirely on gravel roads. When conditions are favorable, Iowa DNR biologists and conservation officers drive their assigned routes, at 10-15 mph, and count all the pheasants, quail, partridge, rabbits, and jackrabbits seen. In all, there are 210-30 mile routes driven (6,300 miles) every August to assess Iowa’s upland game populations. Most counties have 2 routes, and the information from all of these routes is condensed to produce the Iowa
Small Game Distribution Map.
2015 August Roadside Survey Map
Shows the current information on ring-necked pheasants, along with comparisons to the previous year's survey.
2015 August Roadside Survey Report
The full report is also provided online for individuals who would like to see more detailed and long-term trend information.
Upland Game Report:
A Review of Iowa's Upland Game Bird Populations
Other Reports:Upland Game Research & Harvest Reports
The Ring-necked Pheasant in Iowa - Farris 1977 (13 MB)
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest (Logbook) is compiled annually by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Bureau. Publication for the preceding calendar year usually occurs in September.
White-tailed Deer, Wild Turkeys, Furbearers, Waterfowl, Upland Wildlife, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle, River Otter, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Black Bear, Gray Wolf, Trumpeter Swan, Greater Prairie Chicken, Bowhunter Observation Survey and the Ruffed Grouse Survey
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2013
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2012
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2011
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2010
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2009
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2008
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2007
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2006
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2005
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2004
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2003
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2002
Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest 2001
Inquires and requests for bound copies should be addressed to:
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Boone Wildlife Research Station
1436 255th Street, Boone, IA 50036
or contact (515) 432-2823
The Bowhunter Observation Survey is an annual survey conducted by the Iowa DNR to obtain information on deer, turkeys, and selected furbearers. This survey was initiated in 2004 and was designed jointly by the Iowa DNR and William R. Clark, Professor at Iowa State University. For each bowhunting trip, survey participants are asked to record the date, the county hunted, the number of hours hunted, and the number of animals observed while bowhunting.
Hunters are asked to record observations of the following species:
White-Tailed Deer, Striped Skunk, Red Fox, Raccoon, Bobcat, Wild Turkey, Opossum, Badger, River Otter, Gray Fox, Coyote, House Cat
The primary objectives for this survey are to:
Bowhunters are a logical choice for observational-type surveys because the methods used while bowhunting deer are also ideal for viewing most wildlife species in their natural environment. Bowhunters spend a considerable amount of time pursuing deer from a bowstand or ground blind, and while doing so they typically wear camouflage and take steps to control or mask human scent.
Sample survey form for this survey
List of frequently asked questions regarding this survey
2014 Bowhunter Observation Survey
Iowa Hunting & Trapping Regulations for more information.
They Gotta' Have Cover
Three Iowa farmers rap about the pheasant habitat they’ve created to shelter and feed pheasant throughout the year.
It’s a quick tutorial: Grass 10 to 12 inches high is needed for nesting cover; flowering native plants attract insects which provide the protein hatchlings need for growth; and food plots that provide seed and cover during the winter months.