Iowa’s unseasonably cold and snowy winter and wet spring is not likely to boost its pheasant population in 2014.
Pheasants typically show population increases following mild winters with spring that are warmer and dryer than normal. Based on that weather model, the western third of Iowa has the best chance to see an uptick in pheasants due to below average snowfall and less than eight inches of spring rain.
The weather model predicts the rest of the state to see either no population increase or fewer birds than last year. The nesting forecast will be updated by the August roadside survey, which is the best gauge of what pheasant hunters can expect to find in the fall.
Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said while the weather is not what upland bird hunters had hoped for, there is some progress on pheasant habitat. Landowners began enrolling in continuous CRP on Monday.
“This is great news for Iowa’s new pheasant recovery continuous CRP practice designed specifically to help recover pheasant numbers,” Bogenschutz said. Iowa has 45,000 acres available on a first come, first served basis.
“There will not be a general CRP signup this year so this is an option that landowners with expiring general CRP should consider,” he said.
Information on Iowa’s pheasant recovery continuous CRP is available online at www.iowadnr.gov/habitat.