Friday, March 15, 2019

2020 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic Returns to Minneapolis

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, the nation’s largest upland-themed event, will be held February 14, 15 & 16, 2020, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in the Twin Cities. The three-day celebration of upland habitat, hunting and conservation annually draws more than 20,000 supporters and will be presented by Federal Premium Ammunition. 

Minnesota is ground zero for Pheasants Forever, the nonprofit wildlife conservation organization having formed in Saint Paul in 1982. The Kandiyohi County Chapter of Pheasants Forever was the first local affiliate for the budding group in 1983. Today, there are 72 Pheasants Forever chapters, 2 Quail Forever chapters and more than 22,000 Pheasants Forever and/or Quail Forever members in Minnesota, making it the group’s largest membership footprint by state.

See more on Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic 2020

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

South Dakota pheasant nest predator bounty program proposed

By Nick Lowrey

Gov. Kristi Noem’s pheasant nest predator bounty program took another step toward fruition March 1.
On that date, the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission accepted proposals to create the program and to allow traps on public lands until August. 31 every year. The bounty program proposal says species eligible for the $10 bounty are raccoons, skunks, opossums, badgers and red fox. Also, only South Dakota residents could collect bounties.
“We’re excited about the program,” said wildlife damage specialist Keith Fisk.
 Still, Fisk had to answer a couple of tough questions before the Commission accepted the proposal. Scott Phillips, for example asked what will stop someone from collecting the tails off of roadkills in order to collect bounties.
“Hopefully, that doesn’t happen,” Fisk said before going on to explain that to get paid, a person must sign a legal affidavit stating that they killed animal whose tail they’re turning in.
Commission chairman Gary Jensen asked Fisk to explain who will be paying for the bounties and how much the Department expects to spend on the program. Fisk said the money will come from hunting licenses and probably won’t cost more than around $400,000. Still it’s an educated guess, he said.
“I would be surprised if we reached more than $500,000,” Fisk said. “That’s 50,000 tails.”
Tracking the benefit of the bounty program, too, likely will prove difficult Fisk said. There’s science on both sides of the issue he said pointing to a South Dakota study in the 1970s that showed trapping could have an impact on localized areas and a more recent GFP study that showed mixed results.
“In my opinion it’s going to be very difficult to ascertain the benefit of the program,” Fisk said in reference to it’s helping pheasants.
Helping pheasants, though, is kind of beside the point, Department Secretary Kelly Hepler said. More than anything he said he want people to see the program as being about getting more people out in the field and trapping.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Snow could cause problems for Southern MN region's pheasant population

Some local wildlife is feeling the brunt of February's storms.
Small animals that don’t hibernate such as pheasants are often most impacted by the weather, especially with large snow drifts such as those from last weekend’s storm.
Coming into February, pheasants were in good shape due to a mid-winter warm spell, but a polar vortex and a lot of snow has turned that around. Heavy snowfall will cluster birds and increase competition for food, said Chris Fritz, Goodhue County Pheasants Forever vice president and habitat coordinator. If southern Minnesota doesn’t get some melting soon, roosters could begin killing hens in a fight for food.
 “If we haven’t already, we’re going to start losing hens to predation and self-destruction,” he said.
For an already struggling pheasant population, that’s bad news. Most of the area is already considered “very poor” for pheasant hunting by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, with less than 10 pheasants sighted per square mile during last year’s annual roadside survey.
The western side of Le Sueur County and part of eastern and central Goodhue County are considered “poor,” a step up from Waseca, Rice, Steele and Dakota counties, which are all “very poor.”
The closest area for "good" or "fair" pheasant hunting is in Nicollet County, which had over 49 birds per square mile in some western spots and between 25 and 49 birds in other spots during last year's survey.
In the state’s south central pheasant region, which contains Rice, Steele and Freeborn counties as its eastern border, the pheasant index is down 21 percent over its 10-year average and 71 percent from its long-term average.
Animals, including pheasants, do have coping mechanisms for the storms, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Area Wildlife Manager Jeanine Vorland said.