Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 46

South Dakota The 20 percent decline is a statewide average, with some areas impacted less, some more. There were no areas of the state where pheasant numbers increased over last year, according to the recent brood survey data released by Game, Fish and parks. Hardest hit were Aberdeen, down 43 percent from 2015. That was followed by Yankton down 33 percent, Sioux Falls down 28 percent, and Huron, down 23 percent. Areas of the state with marginal losses included Mobridge (no change from 2015), Brookings (down 4 percent), Sisseton (down 7 percent) and all of western South Dakota, down only 1 percent. “After two consecutive years of substantial increases in the statewide pheasants-per-mile (PPM) index, a slight retreat was observed this year,” said Game, Fish and Parks Secretary, Kelly Hepler. “Of the 110 routes surveyed statewide, 38 showed an increase in PPM, while 72 decline from 2015.” Both weather and less habitat on the prairie contributed to the decline, although Hepler Page 46, Dakota Country, October 2016 didn’t specify which element was more responsible for the drop. On the plus side, Secretary Hepler explained, “We want to remind hunters that this year’s index is twice as high as the 2013 index and higher than the 2.7 PPM observed in 2014, when hunters harvested 1.2 million roosters. Good pheasant hunting opportunities will exist in 2016.” As South Dakota continues to try to develop programs to improve habitat, adequate cover on the land remains the top problem. Without cover to provide nesting and food supplies, wildlife of any kind has difficulty surviving. “Habitat continues to be at the forefront of the conversation and still remains a crucial factor in pheasant numbers,” Hepler said. “Bird numbers are higher in parts of the state where quality habitat conditions still exist, primarily on grasslands including those enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, as well as fields of cereal crops like winter wheat. We continue to work hard in our Habitat Pays outreach efforts and in cooperation with landowners and partner organizations to provide an improved future for wildlife habitat in our state.” South Dakota’s statewide pheasant season opens on Saturday, Oct. 15 and runs through Jan. 1, 2017. Shooting is allowed beginning at 12 noon, Central Time for the first 7 days of the season, then 10 a.m., Central Time, to sunset the rest of the season. (Central Time is used for opening shooting hours statewide.) www.dakotacountrymagazine.com