GFP’s annual pheasant brood survey underway

Staff reports
Farm Forum

The yearly pheasant-brood survey conducted by the state Game, Fish and Parks Department started on July 25 and runs through mid-August. GFP has been conducting the survey, which provides an estimate of the huntable pheasant population prior to the actual hunting season, since 1949.

The numbers from 107 routes scattered across the state that remain the same from year to year in order to provide a historical perspective. Each 30-mile route is driven by GFP conservation officers or other wildlife staff between July 25 and Aug. 14. The routes start at sunrise and typically run from east to west to keep the rising sun at the surveyor’s back.

Roosters, hens and chicks, including the number of chicks in a brood, are all marked down in separate categories. The age of the chicks, by week, is also recorded, as it helps GFP staff estimate how much renesting has occurred along a survey route.

Ideal weather conditions for the survey include cool mornings with little to no wind and heavy dew, which forces pheasants out of the wet cover and into the sun to dry their feathers, making them more visible from the road.

After the survey period concludes, GFP compiles all the route data and issues its annual brood-survey report around Labor Day. Last year’s report indicated the statewide pheasants per mile index was down 45 percent compared to 2016 data. More importantly, last year’s report estimated the pheasants per mile index was 65 percent below the state’s 10-year average.