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Iowa pheasant population survey begins Aug. 1

The positive impact Iowa’s mild winter and reasonably dry spring has had on pheasant nesting success will likely be seen when the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducts its annual roadside pheasant counts between Aug. 1-15.

The statewide survey is conducted by Iowa DNR staff who drive 218, 30-mile routes on gravel roads at dawn on mornings with heavy dew. Hen pheasants will move their broods to the edge of the gravel road to dry off before they begin feeding, which makes them easier to count.

“Conditions for the survey are important as the accuracy of the counts depend on the dew conditions when the routes are run,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa DNR.

Iowa’s mild winter and relatively dry nesting season are two important factors that would indicate an upward trend in the state’s pheasant population. A mild winter means more hen survival. A dry nesting season means better nesting success.

“It will be interesting to see the survey results,” Bogenschutz said.

The August roadside survey has been conducted over the same routes since 1962. In addition to pheasants and quail, the survey collects data on partridge, cottontails and jackrabbits. Results will be posted online at www.iowadnr.gov/pheasantsurvey in early September. Iowa’s pheasant season begins Oct. 31.