PIERRE, S.D. – Two weeks into this year’s pheasant season and things couldn’t be better in South Dakota. A large population of birds, coupled with great weather, is providing some of the best pheasant hunting
in the country.
“We were fortunate to have good weather on opening weekend,” said Tony Leif, director, Wildlife Division of Game, Fish and Parks. “We were worried that the weather was going to put a damper on opening weekend, but the moisture we did receive didn’t have much of an impact on the hunting.”
The weather isn’t the only factor that will play a part in determining the number of birds in the fields. Another, and one that seems to be on the minds of hunters and conservationists from around the country, is the upcoming Farm Bill, which could drastically decrease the amount of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) around the country.
“This will undoubtedly have an impact on the pheasant population in South Dakota,” said Leif. “Without those acres enrolled in CRP, we will lose valuable habitat for pheasants and other wildlife in South Dakota.”
It remains to be seen, however, how immediate this impact will be on the pheasant population in our state.
“The pheasant population will always bounce around,” stated Leif. “If the habitat does decline, we will see a lower pheasant population long-term. Of course, in addition to the loss of habitat, the weather will still play a large part in determining the pheasant population in South Dakota.”
Don’t let the potential decline in habitat fool you. South Dakota is among the top ten in the nation in CRP acreage at just over 1.5 million acres enrolled in the program. Any loss of acreage will be detrimental to our wildlife population, but South Dakota will continue to work toward developing the best habitat around.
While the future is hard to predict, it is safe to say that South Dakota will still reign as the pheasant capital of the world.
Pheasant hunting in South Dakota is an integral part of Goal 1 of the 2010 initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism
serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.