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2017 Pheasant Brood Survey Results Are In





PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has completed the annual pheasant brood survey and the results show a significant decrease in the statewide pheasants-per-mile (PPM) index from 2016. The 2017 statewide PPM index is 1.68, down from last year’s index of 3.05.

“While this news is disappointing, it is not unexpected,” stated Kelly Hepler, GFP department secretary. "The difficult winter weather and subsequent drought conditions in various parts of the state will result in hunters having to work harder at trying to take home their daily limit. Even with these conditions, the pheasant hunting opportunities in South Dakota continue to be the best in the country.”

From late July through mid-August, GFP surveyed 110, thirty-mile routes across the state’s pheasant range to estimate pheasant production and calculate the PPM index. The survey is not a population estimate, but rather compares the number of pheasants observed on the routes and establishes trend information. Survey routes are grouped into 13 areas, based on a local city, and the index value of each local city area is then compared to index values of the previous year and the 10-year average.

“Weather conditions and available habitat are key factors contributing to pheasant numbers. We have to remember that over 80 percent of South Dakota experienced some level of drought by mid-July. During very severe drought conditions, pheasant nesting success and chick survival can be reduced due to less cover and a reduction in insects for chicks to feed on,” stated Hepler.

This year, over 8,000 new acres have been enrolled in the Walk-In Area hunting access program within the pheasant range; providing additional places to hunt. This adds to over 1 million acres of existing publicly owned and privately leased land open for public hunting in the primary pheasant range of South Dakota.

“South Dakota is a hunting destination for people across the country and the world, with more than 1 million birds harvested each year. Pheasant hunting and other outdoor recreational activities have long been a fundamental part of the South Dakota experience. We look forward to welcoming that traditional sea of blaze orange once again this October,” concluded Hepler.

South Dakota’s traditional statewide pheasant hunting season opens on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, and runs through Jan. 7, 2018.

More details and Information:

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GFP Mission: The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks provides sustainable outdoor recreational opportunities through responsible management of our state’s parks, fisheries and wildlife by fostering partnerships, cultivating stewardship and safely connecting people with the outdoors.