Wildlife populations were flourishing in 2006-07 when Conservation Reserve Program acres peaked at more than 3.25 million in North Dakota. Since then, as CRP acres have steadily declined, so has the overall harvest of game species.
This is never more evident than with pheasant (see attachment). According to statistics released by the State Game and Fish Department, while the number of pheasant hunters increased by 4 percent from 2011 to 2012, overall harvest fell 10 percent.
“There is a direct correlation between habitat and wildlife populations, and this is apparent when analyzing pheasant numbers,” said Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “For instance, in 2007 habitat was at a premium, the pheasant population was strong and total number of hunters surpassed more than 100,000 for the first time.”
Last year, nearly 86,000 hunters harvested 616,000 roosters. In 2007, more than 107,000 hunters took nearly 908,000 roosters.
The number of resident hunters in 2012 was up 1 percent from 2011, while nonresident pheasant hunters increased 9 percent. Birds bagged per hunter decreased from 8.2 to 7.2, and each hunter spent an average of 5.4 days afield.
Counties with the highest percentage of pheasants taken by resident hunters in 2012 were Hettinger, 7.7; Burleigh, 7.7; McLean, 6.7; Morton, 5.7; and Stark, 4.7.
Top counties for nonresident hunters were Hettinger, 20.1 percent; Bowman, 8.8; Adams, 6; Emmons, 5.9; and McLean, 5.2.
Annual pheasant season statistics are determined by a mail survey of resident and nonresident hunters.