BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A recent survey indicates an increase in North Dakota's pheasant population.
The spring pheasant crowing count survey showed a 6 percent rise statewide from last year, said Stan Kohn, an upland game management supervisor for the state Game and Fish Department.
Low winter pheasant mortality, especially in the southern one-third of the state, helped boost this year's spring count, Kohn said.
Abundant moisture so far this year has provided good habitat conditions for nesting, Kohn said.
Since 2008, North Dakota has lost more than 2 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program grasslands, much of it in the pheasant range, Kohn said. That means total nesting habitat in the state is significantly reduced from where it was when the spring crowing count index peaked in 2008.
The 2014 index is down about one-third from that peak, Kohn said.
“Loss of CRP acres continues to reduce the amount of nesting and brood-rearing habitat on the landscape,” Kohn said. “This and other grassland conversion is going to negatively affect our pheasant population in the future.”
Officials caution that spring crowing count data, gathered by observers who drive 20-mile routes and stop at certain intervals to listen for crowing roosters, is not always a good indicator of the fall pheasant population. Brood surveys that begin later this summer are a better indicator of pheasant production.