Take time now observe young wildlife

Eric Kraetsch
Wildlife Damage Specialist

Summer time is a great time of year to observe wildlife with their young. For those of you that enjoy bird watching or wildlife watching in general, this is a great time of year to get out and see what you can find. From deer fawns to ducklings, all of them are equally entertaining to watch.

One of my additional responsibilities as a wildlife damage specialist in the Milbank area is to run a designated brood route to collect survey data. It’s not my regular day-to-day beat, but hey, I don’t mind a little variety when it comes my way. Not only do I observe pheasants along the thirty mile route, but I also see plenty of other wildlife, helping make it a very enjoyable task.

Pheasant brood routes are done early in the morning during late July and into the first half of August. During this timeframe, if you see slow moving Game, Fish and Parks vehicles shortly after sunrise this time of year that is likely what they are up to. The observer will drive the pre-determined route at a slow speed observing pheasants within 1/8th mile of the roadway. The best conditions for running brood routes are clear mornings with very heavy dew with little to no wind. They can be hard conditions to come by in South Dakota in only a three week timeframe but when planned accordingly and tracking the weather it can be done.

The pheasants react to the heavy dew by coming out on to the open roads or clearings and perching on fence posts as the sun is rising and warming the earth. They do this in order to help dry off and start warming up. While the broods are in the opening or on the road, the observer then has a good opportunity to count the chicks and also classify age if the time and cover allows. This is an important survey as it often gives insight as to how well of a nesting season the pheasants had and an estimate to how many pheasants will be available come hunting season. This is especially important in South Dakota given it is one of the most popular places to pheasant hunting in the country. If you partake in hunting or simply like to watch wildlife interact with their young, make sure and take some time to stop and enjoy them when you can because the summer will be over before we know it and fall will be upon us.

Good Luck and enjoy the nice weather.