State wildlife officials say they're encouraged by a recent survey which shows Iowa pheasant numbers are the highest they've been in more than 6 years. Iowa DNR Biologist Todd Bogenschutz says the annual roadside count recorded a statewide average of 17 birds per 30 mile route compared to just 7 last year.
He says the numbers are surprising given the cool and wet spring, "I've got my fingers crossed, we've got good brood stock and I think think the hunters will be happy."
Iowa's 15- day annual roadside survey is underway at 208 locations around the state. The 30 mile routes are driven at sunrise by Department of Natural Resources staff members along gravel roads. The surveyors watch for pheasants, cottontail and jack rabbits, quail and Hungarian partridge. The count helps gauge the well being of those species, with a focus on the pheasant population. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank tagged along on a survey in Story County.