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Iowa's pheasant harvest hits 10-year-high despite drop in number of hunters

2019 roadside survey underway through Thursday.

Posted: Aug 13, 2019 1:23 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa – The state’s pheasant harvest has hit its highest point since 2008.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says hunters bagged nearly 320,000 roosters in 2018, up from 221,000 in 2017.

“The 2018 roadside survey showed our pheasant population was 39 percent higher than in 2017, so we were expecting an improved pheasant harvest,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the DNR. “We’re glad to see the increase in hunter success, but based on our pheasant population, we should see harvest numbers in excess of 500,000 birds. The primary factor holding our harvest totals down is the lack of hunters. Even with a positive forecast last year, we saw a four percent drop in the number of pheasant hunters.”

The DNR’s annual survey found 47,000 quail were harvested in 2018, along with 123,000 rabbits, nearly 81,000 squirrels and nearly 119,000 doves.

“For comparison, we had a similar quail population in 1995, but five times the quail hunters. They harvested an estimated 250,000 quail,” says Bogenschutz.

The Iowa DNR is in the process of conducting its 2019 survey of upland game. The August roadside survey has been conducted over the same routes since 1962.

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