Question for Iowans..re: pheasant population

This is a discussion on Question for Iowans..re: pheasant population within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Just wondering if any Iowans out there have heard any info on the reason for pheasant population decline. Husband and I have very good friends ...

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Thread: Question for Iowans..re: pheasant population

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    Senior Member Array surefire7's Avatar
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    Question for Iowans..re: pheasant population

    Just wondering if any Iowans out there have heard any info on the reason for pheasant population decline. Husband and I have very good friends along the I-80 corridor mid-state. We've been going out there for Thanksgiving get-togethers and pheasant hunting now for 15 years. When we began, the pheasants were like sparrow clouds, simply amazing. For the past several years the population has declined drastically to where our friend bought birds last year just for the traditional hunt. This year he wanted to do the same but the bird supplier told him all the birds had been sold to South Dakota. Any ideas? Disease, chemicals...?
    "Good decisions come from experience;
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    Change in farming habits is the main thing- long gone are the days of mom and pop farming on the tractor, using hedgerows to mark boundaries for fields. It's now mega corperate farms and subdivisions.
    People tend to forget two things about pheasants; A: they live in hedgerows, feed in the crops
    B: they are not a native species- without a helping hand from us, numbers will dwindle rapidly.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    New Member Array poleclimber9's Avatar
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    I agree, in my area they are removing fence line like crazy. All the smaller farms end up owned by the same person, equipment getting unbelievably HUGE, the fence lines just slow them down. They clear them out and farm straight thru.

    I think there may be a few more reasons, too. The last couple winters have been tough here in NE Iowa, lots of snow cover and a few layers of ice mixed in. I think it makes it impossible for them to get down to the ground for their food sources. I feel sorry for them when you see a few birds out roaming around those icy fields in January looking for something to eat. I have gone to the feed store and picked up a few bags of corn now and then, dump it out here and there and hope for the best. Where I live I am surrounded by State ground, 5 years ago you would hear pheasants all the time, this year I don't think I heard a single one. It's sad.

    A few more factors that may play a part here in Iowa, with the heavy snows we have had some wet springs as well. Maybe flooding the nest sites and lowering the hatch? Just my opinion. I also hear about a booming coyote population, I assume that doesn't help them either.

    The population is definitely down where I am. I don't think it's one particular reason, I think it's a combination of several.

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    Yes, the rough winters combined with no proper cover is a disaster for birds. Fox and coyote population did a number on our wild bird population here a few years ago. Quail numbers were way way down. But, they are slowly coming back... to bad the habitat is not.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Senior Member Array surefire7's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies, our friends have a small farm (couple of 60 acre fields) and they usually have lots of birds. They leave fence rows and put in a "weed plot" mixed with corn for feed/cover in the winters. It sure is amazing to see the clean farming when you're used to the traditional. The birds will come back eventually as cycles go.The weather can sure take its toll however.
    "Good decisions come from experience;
    experience comes from bad decisions"

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    VIP Member Array oakchas's Avatar
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    I live on 8 acres... 6 of it is "natural." When I came here we had lots of pheasants... now very few, maybe one or two. Their habitat on this property has only improved over my tenure here... But the bird population is not. The winters were hard on the birds.
    Politicians, take note of Colorado 9/10/2013.
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    Senior Member Array surefire7's Avatar
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    Our friends also mentioned that they don't see rabbits either-predators must be having a good time but with the cycle of things, the predators will die off eventually as the prey becomes scarce.
    "Good decisions come from experience;
    experience comes from bad decisions"

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    I think it's odd how the coyote population has exploded in the last ten years or so. I've hunted for about 27 years now and when I was a kid they just weren't in the eastern part of the US. I never saw one, the old timers never talked about them and they just flat out didn't exist in any sort of numbers. Now we are covered up in coyotes.

    Were they reintroduced from the West?
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and Ió
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

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    Yup. They sure were. Food supply is abundant for the coyote, they eat anything... As is habitat. Hunting them is difficult for a number of reasons (mainly regulation, and no market for their hides) lead to the exploding population.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Yah, the nasty weather - five years in a row of hard snow and ice along with wetter than normal springs have decimated Iowa's pheasant population. Habitat decline? It's hard to justify leaving ground fallow or renewing a CRP contract when we have 8 dollar corn. Folks are paying six to eight thousand per acre for tillable ground and betting that corn will continue to rise. There will be pain when this bubble pops!

    Iowa has pockets of healthy, wild breeding populations here and there but finding them and getting permission is a tall task. I have only one productive spot left and this population is under intense pressure. Then again there is always the preserve hunting approach but $80 per day per gun does not sit well with my knock on the door and ask - or better yet, get invited - upbringing.

    Let's not forget that, due too the bad weather, pheasant populations are significantly down across all of North America. South Dakota is holding it's own, though.

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    Distinguished Member Array Doghandler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    Yup. They sure were. Food supply is abundant for the coyote, they eat anything... As is habitat. Hunting them is difficult for a number of reasons (mainly regulation, and no market for their hides) lead to the exploding population.
    Regulation? Coyotes are still considered a pest here and fall under a "24-7-365" season. Weapon requirements are simple. If it's otherwise legal you can use it on coyotes. Can't see at night? Get yourself a good light. Having trouble calling them in? Put out some bait.

    Interesting thing about coyotes. When Europeans first arrived on this continent the coyote was relegated to the more arid climates of the west and southwest. They were kept at bay there by the general wolf population. So as the wolf population was decimated the coyotes just moved in. The coyote has prospered exponentialy thanks to the hands of mighty whitey.
    Last edited by Doghandler; November 6th, 2011 at 06:18 PM. Reason: political clout

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    VIP Member Array oakchas's Avatar
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    On a pleasant note: I actually saw a rooster pheasant today crossing the road about 3 mi south of my house... Made me feel good. There's hope.
    Politicians, take note of Colorado 9/10/2013.
    "You are elected to service, not power.
    Your job is to "serve us" not to lord power over us."
    Me, 9/11/13

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    Distinguished Member Array Doghandler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oakchas View Post
    On a pleasant note: I actually saw a rooster pheasant today crossing the road about 3 mi south of my house... Made me feel good. There's hope.
    My wife is danc'n out to Stayin Alive as I write this.

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