What’s ahead in North Dakota’s 2016 when North Dakota’s summer pheasant brood index was up 30 percent statewide from 2014. That was good news and not totally unexpected, as last winter was fairly mild and weather during the primary nesting period was mostly favorable.
It will be months before the 2015 pheasant harvest is determined, but anecdotal accounts indicate that many hunters were encountering more birds in their favored areas.
What’s In Store For North Dakota’s 2016?
A late start to winter, with unseasonably mild weather and limited snowfall into mid-December is about as good of a start to winter as pheasants could ask for. The continued effects of a shrinking habitat base from the loss of more than half the Conservation Reserve Program acres in the state since 2007, limits the potential for much continued expansion of pheasant numbers into 2016.
And even with a predicted mild winter ahead, one major storm can change things in a hurry, so we’ll still have to cross our fingers and wait to see how it all shakes out.
North Dakota’s spring sharptail survey index was up 20 percent in 2015, while summer brood counts indicated a fall population that would be similar, though down just slightly from a good year in 2014.
What’s ahead for North Dakota’s 2016?
Another friendly winter and spring and there’s hope grouse numbers will continue to grow, but temper your expectations, as grouse numbers even during growth events tend to be less noticeable than pheasants.
Next week, I’ll take a look at some other species that had ups or down in 2015, and what might lie ahead.
ND Game & Fish