Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wyoming - More Pheasant Release Sites for the 2014 Season

Pheasants will again be released on select Laramie and Platte county walk-in areas this fall and pheasant stocking in north-central Wyoming will be basically the same as last year, reports the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“It’s a good year for the pheasant program in southeast Wyoming,” said Steve Schafer, superintendent of the Downar Bird Farm near Yoder. “We’ve got improved cover, more release sites and more birds to release than most years.”

These southeast Wyoming walk-in areas will receive pheasants for the 2014 general pheasant season: Goshen County 29 and 63, Laramie County 21 and 34, and Platte County 20 and 23. Weather permitting, areas will be stocked twice a week through Dec. 14.

Pheasants will be stocked at least twice a week at the Springer/Bump Sullivan Wildlife Habitat Management Area (Hunt Area 8) near Yoder during the general season, which runs Nov. 2 – 21. The Table Mountain WHMA south of Huntley will also be stocked twice a week through November.

Special permits are needed Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays during November at the Glendo Pheasant Hunt but pheasants will continue to be released twice a week there through Dec. 14.

The stocking plan for pheasants from the Sheridan Bird Farm is the same as past years.

Weather permitting, the Yellowtail WHMA (Hunt Area 5) near Lovell will be stocked twice a week through the week of Christmas and the Ocean Lake and Sand Mesa WHMAs (Hunt Area 2) near Riverton will be stocked twice a week through the first week in December. Check wgfd.wyo.gov for current info about pheasant stocking in these areas.

Walk-in areas will be stocked in Campbell County (No. 2), Johnson County (Nos. 9, 11) and Sheridan County (Nos. 1-6). Plus, in the Sheridan-Buffalo area, the Buffalo Run state land area, Bud Love WHMA, Welch Bureau of Land Management area and Fort Phil Kearny Hunter Management Area will also be stocked. Weather permitting, these walk-in and other areas in the Sheridan-Buffalo area will be stocked once a week through November and possibly longer depending on the supply of birds. Hunters can contact the Sheridan Game and Fish Office for the specific locations of release areas.

Hunters, regardless of age, are reminded to purchase the Pheasant Special Management Permit to hunt pheasants released by the Game and Fish. Hunter orange is recommended for all upland game bird hunting and required when hunting pheasants on Game and Fish habitat areas and the Glendo Pheasant Hunt.

Hunters are cautioned if they follow the stocking truck, the driver will likely return to the bird farm and not release the birds until a later date.

(Contact: Jeff Obrecht (307) 777-4532)


Monday, October 13, 2014

Tough times for pheasants in Washington State

Alan Thomas

Pheasant hunters lose ground to productive farming.

Two decades of change have been at work on the landscape of Eastern Washington and upland bird populations – especially pheasants – are the losers.

Big farms grow crops to the shoulders of state highways. Windmills cover hillsides. Leaky irrigation systems have been improved. And largely gone are the brushy ditches, fence rows, weedy patches and too-steep-to-farm eyebrows that once dotted the landscape with habitat for birds, particularly pheasants.

Where there once was an idle field in the Yakima Valley, now there’s a crop of corn to produce ethanol. A weedy ridge towering over the Snake River now is laced with roads to access a group of wind turbines.

Eastern Washington’s 2013 pheasant harvest was among the lowest on record.

Brian Calkins, small-game manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, is hopeful the 2014 season will see an improvement.

“Based on winter and spring weather conditions, we are optimistic that our pheasant harvest will rebound,” Calkins told Pheasants Forever, a nationwide conservation group. “Adding to our habitat base, several thousand acres of permanent cover were seeded with forbs (broad leaf plants) in southeast Washington this year specifically to improve brood rearing habitat for pheasants.”
Eastern Washington also had a mild winter, relatively dry spring and dry summer, which likely will help with wild pheasant production.

Oregon Pheasant Tales - Hunting Pheasants in 2014

James Stengle

For upland bird hunters, the pheasant opener (Saturday, October 11th) is like a festive holiday. Every October a sea of orange-clad hunters descend on the fields and farms of Oregon to chase the wily Chinese ring-necked pheasant. We come from around the state and elsewhere to share this hunt. Whoa, not so fast! That is the way it used to be here in Oregon. But things have definitely gone downhill if you are a pheasant hunter in Oregon. We still enjoy the opening day and get a chance to chase those pheasant tails but pheasant populations have significantly declined over the decades.

Pheasants were first successfully introduced to the United States right here in Oregon in the Willamette Valley in 1881 by Judge Owen Denny. That introduced population thrived and with protection, Oregon held its first pheasant season eleven years later when 50,000 pheasants were harvested. Birds were introduced into 40 other states and populations reached all-time highs in the mid-1900s. But a combination of factors has reduced populations across much of the current pheasant range. Changing agricultural practices, habitat destruction, development, and urban/suburban encroachment have taken its toll on pheasant numbers. Without major changes, these factors will continue to impact pheasants in years to come. Latest harvest statistics for Oregon showed less than 20,000 pheasants were harvested last year. The outlook for this season shows a decline in pheasant numbers with no identified reason. So it does look like a bleak season for us pheasant hunters here in Oregon.

More Public Hunting Land In Nobles County MN Opens Today

More than 150 outdoor supporters and hunters gathered Saturday during the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener to dedicate a recently acquired wildlife management area (WMA) near Worthington.

The 147-acre Worthington Wells tract of the Lake Bella WMA provides public hunting land and protects highly vulnerable soils in the center of Worthington’s municipal water supply.

The parcel lies in the Lake Bella well field, which supplies the majority of water to the city of Worthington. The soils on 97 acres of the WMA are permeable, meaning they rapidly absorb surface water. Covering the site with undisturbed grassland provides habitat for many species of wildlife and helps protect groundwater from contamination.

Read the rest of the MinnesotaSportngJournal article

Monday, October 6, 2014

Many factors could affect MN pheasant season success

Glenn Schmitt, glens@outdoornews.com

The 2014 pheasant season kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday and hunters are expected to have a better season than 2013 when they shot 169,000 roosters, which was the lowest total since 1986.

August roadside counts conducted by the Department of Natural Resources indicated a 6 percent increase in pheasant numbers from last year. It also appears that nesting success was better this spring based on a 28 percent increase in the number of broods counted compared with last August.

But Nicole Davros, DNR research scientist, says there are several variables that will once again play into hunter success this season. Among them, the lack of corn harvested at the start of the season could affect hunters more than any other factor.

“There just hasn’t been much of a corn harvest at this point. I’m hoping it starts coming out because that helps condense birds,” she said. “We’re predicting a harvest of 224,000 roosters this season, we hope it will be close to that.”

Minnesota's pheasant habitat is being improved, but the amount continues to decline

Article by: DOUG SMITH 

When Minnesota’s 70,000 or so pheasant hunters go afield beginning Saturday, they will find some improved wildlife habitat on the heavily hunted state wildlife management areas.

That’s good, because they’re also going to find considerably less ringneck habitat on private lands.

Over the past three years, three roving habitat crews funded by Legacy Amendment dollars have enhanced grasslands on state lands, doubling the acreage the Department of Natural Resources normally improves yearly. Totaling 22 people, the crews do controlled burns to stimulate growth, cut trees and woody cover that invade grasslands, and plant seed.

“We [the DNR] normally burn 15,000 to 20,000 acres yearly, and these crews are doing about that much alone,’’ said Bob Welsh, DNR wildlife habitat program manager.

The results should benefit pheasants and pheasant hunters. “Higher-quality grasslands will no doubt generate more birds,’’ Welsh said.

But this accelerated effort to improve grassland quality comes while the amount of private land enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) continues to drop. Those grasslands are being plowed and planted to corn and soybeans. In 2007, Minnesota hunters shot 655,000 pheasants — the highest tally in more than 40 years. Last year, after losing 93,000 acres (145 square miles) of grasslands over the years, hunters bagged just 169,000 ringnecks, the lowest in 28 years.

The decline in the number of pheasant hunters contributed to that harvest decline: Minnesota had an estimated 56,000 fewer pheasant hunters last fall than in 2007.

But the habitat situation could have been much worse. The state actually lost 224,000 acres (350 square miles) of CRP in the pheasant range in the past seven years, but it gained 130,000 acres of other habitat there, including 52,000 acres of new federal waterfowl production areas, refuges and easements and 35,000 acres of state wildlife areas.

Minnesota now has about 1.6 million acres of grassland habitat, down from 1.7 million acres in 2007.