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North Dakota pheasant count declines 61 percent, survey shows

North Dakota's roadside pheasant counts are down 61 percent from 2016, the Game and Fish Department says. (Photo/ Craig Bihrle, N.D. Game and Fish Department)

BISMARCK—North Dakota's roadside pheasant survey conducted in late July and August indicates total birds and number of broods are down statewide from 2016.

According to R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, the survey shows total pheasants observed per 100 miles are down 61 percent from last year. In addition, brood observations were down 63 percent, while the average brood size was down 19 percent. The final summary is based on 279 survey runs made along 103 brood routes across North Dakota.

"Brood data suggests very poor production this spring when compared to 2016, which results in less young birds added to the fall population," Gross said. "The majority of the state was in extreme drought conditions during critical times for pheasant chicks. This resulted in poor nesting/brood habitat and more than likely a less than ideal insect hatch."

Here's a look at the survey results by region:

• Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate total pheasants were down 59 percent and broods observed down 60 percent from 2016. Observers counted eight broods and 68 birds per 100 survey miles. The average brood size was 4.3.

• Results from the southeast show birds are down 60 percent from last year, and the number of broods down 70 percent. Observers counted two broods and 24 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 4.7.

• Statistics from the northwest indicated pheasants are down 72 percent from last year, with broods are down 76 percent. Observers recorded three broods and 24 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 5.2.

• The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat, with much of it lacking good winter cover, showed one brood and six birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 3.5. Number of birds observed was down 54 percent, and the number of broods recorded was down 63 percent.

North Dakota's 2017 regular pheasant season opens Oct. 7 and continues through Jan. 7. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

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