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North Dakota spring pheasant crowing counts decline 22%, Game and Fish Department says

“The decrease came as no surprise,” said R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist for Game and Fish in Bismarck.

Pheasants
Hunters in North Dakota shot fewer pheasants in 2021 than they did the previous year, the Game and Fish Department said.
Contributed / North Dakota Game and Fish Department
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BISMARCK – Spring pheasant crowing counts in North Dakota are down 22% statewide from last year, the Game and Fish Department said Thursday in reporting results from its 2022 spring crowing count survey.

Gross_RJ 2013.jpg
RJ Gross, upland game biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Contributed / North Dakota Game and Fish Department

“The decrease came as no surprise,” said R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist for Game and Fish in Bismarck. “We documented below average production from late summer roadside counts and the hunter-harvested wing survey confirmed a 2-to-1 juvenile to adult ratio, which are lingering effects from the drought of 2021.”

The primary regions holding pheasants showed 14.1 crows per stop in the southwest, down from 18.4 in 2021; 13.7 crows per stop in the northwest, down from 14.3; and 9.7 crows per stop in the southeast, down from 14.5. The count in the northeast, which is not a primary region for pheasants, was 3.0 crows per stop, down from 5.2 last year.

“Current conditions are improving across the state with adequate moisture this spring. These conditions should foster insect hatches, which would provide forage to chicks for brood rearing,” Gross said. “Pheasant chicks hatch from early June through late July. Much of nesting success will depend on the weather, and we will more accurately assess pheasant production during our late summer roadside counts, which begin at the end of July.”

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.

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The number of pheasant crows heard are compared to previous years’ data, providing a trend summary.

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