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Pheasant Numbers Are Down

South Dakota Game Fish and Parks

Pheasant numbers are down 20 percent from last year in South Dakota. But Officials with the Game Fish and Parks assure hunters that the numbers will not affect fall hunting.

The Game Fish and Parks just completed their annual brood survey. The pheasants seen along known routes were fewer than in 20-15. However . . . the Game Fish and Parks says this year’s numbers are still double what they were in 20-13 and 15 percent higher than 20-14.

Travis Runia is a Senior Game Biologist for the Game Fish and Parks. He says the pheasant population overall is doing just fine.

“It’s really not unusual to see these year to year bounces of 20 percent or even more like what we saw this past year. And this last year we did drop 20 percent. Even though we are a bit lower than last year, we’re still setting up for a pretty good fall season I think.” says Runia.

Runia says weather was the most likely culprit for the lower numbers. He says timely weather can positively or negatively cause these noticeable changes.

“In the short term weather has a lot to do with what we see in year to year changes in pheasant abundance. And over this past year areas especially south of I-90 did have above normal winter snow fall, which can influence the winter survival of pheasants. And that same area south of I-90 also had above normal precipitation in April and May when those birds are nesting, which can be a little bit problematic if it’s in excess,” says Runia.

Runia says the decrease should not affect the hunting industry. He says Game Fish and Parks will likely not put any restrictions on pheasant hunting this fall.