BENTON COUNTY (AP) — The number of pheasants in Iowa is expected to rebound in 2015 after the hunting harvest fell to 150,000 statewide in 2013.
KCRG-TV reports that a survey of hunters by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources shows there are increased numbers of the bird as it enters the nesting season this spring. The population fell in the early 2000s during a period of winters with heavy snowfall and very wet springs.
According to DNR wildlife biologist Tim Thompson, there are early signs that more birds survived this winter, and that a rise in pheasant numbers should follow the increase seen in 2014.
“Each year we can have good nesting, that population base is going to get higher and higher. Hopefully, we’ll get back to where we were in 2005,” Thompson said.
A rise in numbers would have an economic impact on the state. Thompson says that on average, hunters spend $127 a day when they are in the field. That adds up to $58 million in revenue from the purchase of licenses, food, fuel and other necessities.
Along with good weather, the amount of habitat available for the pheasants is important for increasing their numbers. Rich Scheer, a Benton County farmer, has planted cover crops and belts of evergreen trees for the birds. He says that he had not seen any pheasants on his farm for three years, but saw 11 last week.
“It just means they’re coming back. I wish more people would put in habitat instead of taking it out,” Scheer said.
The farmer says he will plant another 30 acres of habitat this spring.