North Dakota’s spring pheasant population index is about the same as last year, according to the state Game and Fish Department’s 2021 spring crowing count survey.
R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist, said the number of roosters heard crowing this spring was up about 3% statewide.
“The statewide number might be a bit misleading since we are notably down in the southwest, while most of the state benefitted from good reproduction in 2020 and a mild winter,” Gross said.
The primary regions holding pheasants showed 18.4 crows per stop in the southwest, down from 19.6 in 2020; 14.3 crows per stop in the northwest, up from 12.2; and 14.5 crows per stop in the southeast, up from 13.6. The count in the northeast, which is not a primary region for pheasants, was 5.2 crows per stop, up from 3.4 last year.
Gross said current drought conditions are causing delayed growth in nesting cover, brood rearing cover and croplands across the state, while extended drought conditions could prevent insect hatches, reducing forage availability to chicks for brood rearing.
“We are hopeful that the latest rain events will foster insect production to bolster pheasant chick foraging,” he said.
Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stopping at predetermined intervals, and counting the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a 2-minute period.
The number of pheasant crows heard are compared to previous years’ data, providing a trend summary.