Tri-State DNR Reports Show Overall Decrease In Pheasant Numbers
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released its annual spring surveys, revealing stable population numbers and habitat conditions for migratory waterfowl. However, the surveys also showed declines in ruffed grouse and pheasant populations compared to the 5-year average.
Ruffed grouse drumming activity decreased by 11% statewide from the previous year, as expected during the down phase of their 10-year abundance cycle. Pheasant populations were also down relative to historical averages, with an average of 0.46 pheasants per stop, below the 5-year average of 0.55.
Despite these declines, certain regions, particularly the northwestern part of the pheasant range, showed higher pheasant abundance. The waterfowl survey indicated stable numbers for mallards and blue-winged teal, but wood duck populations decreased from the previous year.
The breeding duck population was estimated at 545,065 birds, a 3.5% decrease from the 2022 estimate but 23.4% over the long-term average. Canada goose numbers are also slightly lower than 2022 but remain significantly higher (58.4%) than the long-term average. Highly pathogenic avian influenza did not significantly impact waterfowl populations, and nesting conditions were favorable.
Last years Iowa DNR roadside report also showed a decrease in populations for Pheasant and Patridge. However, Quail populations continue to expand. Statewide Pheasant populations were down 4% from 2021 and partridge numbers dropped 20% across a years span. Quail saw an explosive 103% increase in populations from 2021-2022. The new roadside reports for Iowa will be conducted again in August of this year.
Last years report showed that the Tri-State region of Iowa was in a "poor area" for Pheasant hunting based on small game distribution. Meanwhile, hunters on the Eastern side of the sate saw excellent opportunities to bag some ring-necks.
The latest report out of Illinois showed great promise in 2022, observers recorded an average of 0.50 pheasants per stop, that was up 8.7% across the 67 survey routes. Ring-necked pheasants were recorded at 21% of the stops on the routes. That's for an overall 17% increase from 2021. The number of pheasants counted and the number of stops where pheasants were seen or heard were higher than the numbers from the 2021 surveys. Based on past surveys, Illinois Pheasant Harvest and Pheasant Hunters from 1955-2020 have shown massive decreases year-over-year.