Pheasant numbers significantly down from 2016

North Dakota’s roadside pheasant survey conducted in late July and August indicates total birds and number of broods are down statewide from 2016.

R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the survey shows total pheasants observed per 100 miles are down 61 percent from last year. In addition, brood observations were down 63 percent, while the average brood size was down 19 percent. The final summary is based on 279 survey runs made along 103 brood routes across North Dakota.

“Brood data suggests very poor production this spring when compared to 2016, which results in less young birds added to the fall population,” Gross said. “The majority of the state was in extreme drought conditions during critical times for pheasant chicks. This resulted in poor nesting/brood habitat and more than likely a less than ideal insect hatch.”

The 2017 regular pheasant season opens Oct. 7 and continues through Jan. 7. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Deadline approaches for photo contest

The deadline for submitting entries in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest is Oct. 2.

The contest has categories for nongame and game species, as well as plants/insects. An overall winning photograph will be chosen, with the number of place winners in each category determined by the number of qualified entries.

Contest entries are limited to digital files submitted on disk or via email. Contestants are limited to no more than five entries. Photos must have been taken in North Dakota.

Photo disks should be sent to Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest, C/O Patrick T. Isakson, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095.

Send emailed digital photos to photocontest@nd.gov. Photographers will need to supply the original image if needed for publication.

Whooping cranes in midst of fall migration

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their fall migration and sightings will increase as they make their way into and through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight, they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of two to three birds and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location and the birds' activity. Observers should look closely for and report colored bands, which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Long Lake, 701-387-4397, national wildlife refuges; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.

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