Revival of Pheasant Numbers Wanted in South Dakota

A state Game, Fish and Parks Department official delivered a slide presentation Friday on the past, present and future of pheasants in South Dakota.

The discussion came as South Dakota prepares for its centennial season of pheasant hunting in 2019. Governor candidates recently announced plans to spur a ringneck revival.

“We need to get everybody involved. Everybody in South Dakota should realize how important this resource is to us,” Barry Jensen of White River said in an article written by Bob Mercer.

“It’s important to the state economically,” the chairman told the other commissioners. “It may be an area we can get out there a little better.”

Kirschenmann, chief of terrestrial habitat for the state wildlife division, stresses habitat is essential for survival and production.

One slide showed the ups and downs of federal soil bank and conversion reserve program acres in South Dakota and the accompanying rises and declines in annual pheasant per mile estimates.

A new effort has some wildlife division staff analyzing game production areas. Their recommendations will be brought to the game commission later this year.

Encouraging landowners to grow short trees, shrubs and bushes that act as thermal barriers help pheasants get through bad weather.

Insects are the main food young pheasants eat the first eight weeks and the top source of hens after they’ve hatched their clutches of eggs.

“We know winter wheat can provide very valuable nesting habitat, “ Kirschenmann said.

Another chart showed locations for 19 habitat advisors from various organizations and governments throughout South Dakota.

Sioux Falls hosted Pheasant Fest last month which Kirschenmann said was “great timing.”

U.S. Senator John Thune wants the federal government to increase CRP acres to 30 million in the next farm bill. The current level is 24 million. 
While South Dakota pheasant numbers have dropped in the past decade, they’re still better than anywhere else.

More people from outside of South Dakota bought pheasant licenses year after year in recent times than hunters who live in South Dakota.

“Our tradition of pheasant hunting is none like anybody else has,” said Kirschenmann.

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