South Dakota has 1.1 million acres of public pheasant hunting land. But it's getting more difficult for hunters to find a bird.
Last year, hunters saw an average of 1.5 pheasants for every mile of hunting land.
That's a drastic decline from the year before, when the average was just over four birds per mile.
There's one main factor for the drop in pheasants, the loss of a half million acres of native prairie throughout the state.
But the conservation group Pheasants Forever just opened up a new office in Brookings to bring back the bird population, and the state has a new campaign to bring back the hunters.
Dave Nomsen and his assistant Dakota Belle are doing their part to retrieve our state's declining pheasant population.
"The pheasants are all about grassland. Grasslands interspersed with crop lands, wetlands and old habitats, is the key to South Dakotas pheasant hunting and it's heritage, so were here to focus in habitat improvements," Nomsen said.
Nomsen is the director of South Dakota's new regional office for the bird conservation group, Pheasants Forever.
"The South Dakota commemorative quarter has roosters flying over Mt. Rushmore, the Ring Neck Pheasant is ingrained in the culture here, all across society in South Dakota, so it needs to maintained and preserved for future generations," Nomsen said.
South Dakota Department of Tourism, deputy secretary Wanda Goodman said "this year, we're using a phrase called 'There's No Place Like It,' which is certainly true no matter what our numbers look like. Even in South Dakota, if our numbers are declining, our bird numbers are still far and away higher, than any of our surrounding states."
To make sure there are enough birds to hunt, Pheasants Forever wants to preserve our state's grasslands.
"It's the single biggest reason that we have some control over, of course weather, drought, and tough winters can play a significant role but habitat is the single key to maintaining a strong pheasant population," Nomsen said.
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