Pheasant numbers are booming this year, thanks to excellent spring nesting weather with no major snow storms or flooding rains.
The southwestern part of the state is particularly fruitful according to the DNR's latest roadside survey.
"They get out there right at sunrise on days when it's not windy and ideally when there's a lot of dew," says Upland Game Research Scientist Tim Lyons. "That tends to make a lot of the animals in particular pheasants more visible. They drive 25 mile routes at anywhere from like 10 to 20 miles an hour targeting pheasants. But they also keep an eye out for things like deer, jackrabbits, cotton tails, morning doves.
Lyons says another factor in this year's strong numbers is habitat, also in good shape, thanks to an increase in the number of farmers enrolling some of their less productive acreage in the Federal Conservation Reserve program.
CRP is a land conservation program administered by Farm Service Agency. In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.
The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.