Chinese ring-necked pheasants were first successfully introduced in South Dakota in 1908 in Spink County. That was also where the state’s first pheasant hunting season took place.
Today pheasant hunting is big business in the state. According to the South Dakota Department of Tourism, pheasant hunting generates an estimated 223 million dollars annually. But pheasant numbers have been falling since 2007. Concern about the declining pheasant population and its statewide impact led Governor Dennis Daugaard to form a pheasant habitat task force.
Travis Runia is senior upland game biologist for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department. During a Dakota Midday broadcast from Redfield, Runia discussed the history and future of pheasants in the state. He says bird numbers could rebound this year.