SD Pheasants Should See 'Modest' Increases
Favorable weather for a second consecutive year is helping to increase South Dakota's pheasant numbers after a period of declining population, giving hunters reason to be optimistic for the upcoming season.
Travis Runia - the lead upland game biologist for South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department - said as the mid-June pheasant hatches arrives, he's predicting a "modest increase" in the statewide population. this year.
"Information is starting to trickle in and we're starting to get some good reports," he said earlier this week in an interview with The Daily Republic.
Runia uses weather data annually to predict the pheasant hatch, which runs into mid-July. He analyzes winter snowfall and spring rain totals to consider nesting conditions and get an approximation on bird numbers for the upcoming hunting season.
A mild winter, and an uneventful spring with enough, but not to much rain, make ripe conditions for the pheasant hatch. Spring moisture is needed to grow thick grass cover for habitat and nesting concealment.
The mild winter and favorable spring throughout most of the state, Runia said, have created strong conditions for the pheasant production. The Mitchell area, for example, had about 22 inches of snow over the winter, which is about 13 inches below average, and about 6 inches of rain in April and May, nearly an ideal amount, Runia said.
Those factors should produce an increase in numbers, Runia said. But he added that it is unlikely to see an abundance of young pheasant families out and about right away.
"Even though we are in that peak hatch period right now, the birds are pretty secretive and tough to detect," he said.
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